Tag: "corruption"

Posted November 4, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

In the year since Gigi Sohn has been nominated to fill the fifth and final seat on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), we have been perplexed as to why Gigi hasn't been confirmed yet, as you can see here and here. We were also signatories to a letter of support signed by 250 industry and public interest groups.

And yet the mystery remained. 

Having hunted for an answer for the last several months, The Verge published a piece yesterday, after reaching out to everyone from Fox News, Comcast and former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, a number of current and former members of Congress, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and FCC nominee Gigi Sohn, even the Fraternal Order of Police.  

Here's a few snippets of what they reported:

The inability to get Gigi confirmed at the FCC has left the commission deadlocked with two Democrats and two Republicans. That means the commission in charge of regulating all telecom in the United States, including how you get your internet service, is unable to get much done...

Gigi was nominated to the FCC over a year ago, and throughout her career, she has been popular with just about everyone. She is known as an incredibly talented telecom regulator who has been willing to work across the aisle ...

They even interviewed Chris Ruddy, CEO of the conservative news outlet Newsmax:

Chris Ruddy: I’ve strongly supported her nomination. I’ve known her for some time. I think she’s a person of integrity. We probably disagree on a lot of issues. In fact, I know we disagree on any number of big issues. She would probably identify herself as liberal, maybe progressive, and I would say I’m conservative.

Am I going to agree with her on every issue? No, but I do think that the fact that every major big company, all...

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Posted September 6, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

Welcome to another installment of In Our View, where from time to time, we use this space to share our thoughts on recent events playing out across the digital landscape and take the opportunity to draw attention to important but neglected broadband-related issues.

As its ongoing work to revamp the agency’s notoriously inaccurate broadband coverage maps continues, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week the opening of a window for states, local and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities to challenge the service data submitted by providers over the summer.

At the end of June, as FCC chairwoman Jessica Ronsenworcel noted, the FCC “opened the first ever window to collect information from broadband providers in every state and territory about precisely where they provide broadband services.” 

The key word here is “precisely” because the truth is: no one really knows precisely where broadband is, or is not, available. And with tens of billions of dollars in federal funding being spent to deploy high-speed Internet infrastructure, accurate mapping data is essential for targeting where those funds would be best allocated in each state and U.S. territory.

Historically, the FCC relied on self-reported submissions of Internet service providers (ISPs) for information on which locations they serve and what speeds are available at those addresses. However, in practice, that meant the FCC maps could declare an entire census block to be “served” by a broadband provider if that provider claimed the ability to serve just one home in the entire block; thereby overcounting how many households have access to broadband.

The Broadband DATA Act was passed to fix that glaring problem by requiring the FCC to use a more refined methodology to verify if the data submitted by ISPs is accurate.

To that end, the FCC will now rely on something called the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (BSLF), which will combine a...

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Posted August 23, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

Although disappointing for advocates of local Internet choice weary of monopoly providers working to stifle competition, what we are seeing coming out of Montana’s state broadband grant program, Connect MT, shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Last week we learned that the state’s Department of Administration had recommended that nearly half of the Connect MT funding – $126 million – be awarded to Charter Communications, which has been aggressively lobbying Montana legislators (and funding campaigns in opposition to community broadband proposals in other states).

It did not go unnoticed by Montana Free Press deputy editor Eric Dietrich who recently reported that the recommended award to Charter “has plowed into rocky ground as (the state) considers a list of recommended projects this month.”

‘Not Perfect by Any Means’

The story raises questions about the state’s ranking system for proposed projects and notes that the lion’s share of grant money being recommended for Charter “has drawn the ire of smaller, Montana-based companies that want more support for their own networks.”

In hearings this month, Department of Administration Director Misty Ann Giles, the committee’s vice-chair, described the $258 million program as a learning experience for the state government, which hasn’t previously managed a large broadband program. The scoring system the department used to rank applications, she said at an Aug. 2 meeting, ‘is not perfect by any means.’

‘This is a first-in-kind program for the state of Montana, so there’s definitely some lessons learned,’ Giles said.

Giles and committee chair Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, have also said the state will have the chance to fine-tune its awards process and fund additional projects as it works through additional federal broadband money it expects to receive through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

After passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature established advisory committees to make recommendations to the governor about how the state’s Rescue Plan funds should be spent on infrastructure, including broadband.

...

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