Of the $14.2 billion originally allocated for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), less than $5 billion remains. And so far, there is not definitive plan to restock the fund and continue the program.
A divided Congress makes it even harder for a legislative fix to emerge, even if it has bipartisan support. A proposal by President Joe Biden for stopgap funding of $6 Billiong to fund the ACP through the end of the year has not been acted on. A longer-term fix to the program will likely require a permanent funding stream. Various proposals have been discussed, including an expansion of the Universal Service Fund, but uncertainty remains.
According to information at https://acpdashboard.com, a website provided by CBAN member Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), funding will run out some time this summer based on current enrollment rates. The ILSR dashboard also shows interesting data points about the ACP, including which states are doing well and which ones are lagging. Overall, an estimated 42% of eligible households are enrolled.
There They Go Again - Attacks on Public Broadband
Since the very first municipal broadband provider was built decades ago, big telecom companies and their supporters have gone to great lengths to attack the rights of communities to build and operate broadband as a public utility. In the latest edition of Broadband Action we chat with Harvey Couch with the Frankfort Plant Board in Kentucky's capital city, whose public broadband is being targeted by their own state senator; and Gigi Sohn, Executive Director of the American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB) which advocates for municipal broadband and defends against similar attacks by dark money groups.
CLICK HERE to tune in to Broadband Action, or listen on your favorite podcast platform. Just search "Broadband Action" in your podcast app's search bar.
Broadband Action is also available in video form on the CBAN YouTube channel. CLICK HERE to view the episode and subscribe!
The American Connection Corps, an AmeriCorp program of Lead for America, is the first ever recipient of the US Broadband Award for "Affordability in Broadband". The honor was handed out on November 27th at the US Broadband Summit in Washington, D.C.
ACC sent the following statement to supporting organizations (like CBAN):
This milestone achievement would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our dedicated partners, sponsors, and stakeholders like you. Your belief in our mission has been a driving force behind our success.
The American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB) is fighting back against dark money groups and their attacks on community broadband networks nationwide.
AAPB Executive Director Gigi Sohn (a guest on the latest edition of the Broadband Action podcast) issued a statement this week in response to a recent campaign launched by a group called the Domestic Policy Caucus. This group, whose funding support is a mystery, has a website Nogovinternet.com that makes wild an inaccurate claims about CBAN member Traverse City Light and Power in Michigan and Utopia in Utah. The same group also has launched a project called giaa to attack a planned community broadband network in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Sohn issued the following statement this week
“Here they go again. Using false and tired arguments, big cable is attacking three community broadband networks that residents and their elected officials chose to build and own. And like it did earlier this year in Bountiful City, Utah, it is hiding behind a surrogate that doesn’t reveal its financial supporters.
“It is profoundly ironic that the country’s richest media companies are attacking “government-run” networks when they are at the same time bringing in billions of dollars of subsidies from the federal government and seeking billions more in grants from state governments. When your tax dollars are on the table, these “private” enterprises are more than happy to grab them with both hands.
“Traverse City, Falmouth and the Utah communi>es served by UTOPIA Fiber exercised the freedom to control their broadband futures because incumbent cable and telephone companies have not built networks that meet the needs of their residents, in some cases even after city officials asked them to do so. The residents of those communities want affordable, robust and reliable broadband and excellent customer service. But big cable would rather spend millions of dollars trying to block competition than improving their own networks.
“It is hardly a coincidence that two of community networks featured on big cable’s dark money hit list are affiliated with AAPB. As hundreds of communities consider public broadband as an option for their residents, AAPB will be there to defend their freedom to choose at every turn.”
CBAN is excited to announce our newest provider member and first Kentucky member! Frankfort Plant Board (FPB)!
Frankfort is one of the real pioneers in municipal telecommunications, having served the Kentucky capital for over 75 years with electric, water, and telecommunications.
While provding great service to Frankfort community for decades, recently FPB has come under attack from a state senator in the region who first lobbied for FPB to sell the broadband utility to a private provider, and is now threatening legislation to force the sale.
The situation at FPB and other attacks on municipal broadband are the subject of this week's edition of Broadband Action (see story for more details).
On behalf of the entire CBAN family and team, we want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!
As we approach the end of 2023, we indeed have much to be thankful for at CBAN!
We are very grateful to all of you who read Broadband Bytes each week, who tune into Broadband Action, and who've become CBAN members. If you enjoy this blog and email newsletter, why not become a CBAN member? It's free for community-focused broadband members, communities, and advocates. Are you a company that offers products and services in the broadband world? Join as an Associate Member.
CLICK HERE to access our membership page and join!
These are busy times at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). FCC action was limited for an extended period of time because a missing commissioner meant 2-2 ties on many issues by the Democratic and Republican appointees. Now that the commission is at full strength with Democrats in control, the Commission has been actively pushing forward with a number of rules.
The latest propsoal advanced by Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel this week are rules to eliminate "video service junk fees" on cable bills. Rosenworcel's proposal, which will be voted on by the FCC at their December 13th meeting, would prevent cable and satellite video providers from several actions that Rosenworcel says are anti-competitive and anti-consumer.
“No one wants to pay junk fees for something they don’t want or can’t use. When companies charge customers early termination fees, it limits their freedom to choose the service they want,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “In an increasingly competitive media market, we should make it easier for Americans to use their purchasing power to promote innovation and expand competition within the industry.” -- FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel
Proposed legislation in Congress would, for the first time ever, force large broadband providers and "edge providers" of content to contribute to the Universal Service Fund (USF).
The Universal Service Fund, administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) operates several programs designed to benefit schools, libraries, and hospitals get connected to broadband, as well as subsidies to providers in high-cost areas. A key component to the USF, the Lifeline program, benefits lower-income Americans with a monthly subsidy toward their telephone or internet service. Currently, the USF is supported by a surcharge on certain long distance telephone revenues. As long distance calling revenues for providers have steadily declined, the surcharge has risen steadily and now amounts to 34.5%. This contribution factor is almost always passed on to the consumer by the provider.
The new legislation, "Lowering Broadband Costs for Consumers Act of 2023", would force broadband providers that account for more than 3% of annual internet traffic and earn more than $5 Billion to pay into the fund. In addition to impacting some of the nation's biggest ISP's, it would require large edge providers of content like Alphabet, Meta, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Netflex to make a contribution.
In an article at Fierce Telecom, one of the co-sponsors, Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), said the legislation is needed.
“Fair contributions to the USF from edge providers are long overdue. Video streaming services account for 75% of all traffic on rural broadband networks. However, unrecovered costs from streaming companies are often shifted and borne by small rural broadband providers.” - Sen. Markwayne Mullen (R-OK)
The proposed legislation has received support from indsutry associations that support small ISP's such as the NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association. Big cable/broadband advocates are opposed.
Rural residents of Madison County, New York will get access to better broadband thanks to action being taken by the county government.
The Madison County Rural Broadband Network will bring 100/100 Mbps broadband to nearly 1,100 underserved households and businesses in the central New York county southeast of Syracuse. Another 6,504 homes will also have access to the network. The first fiber hut was placed on November 3rd.
The project is funded by a USDA ReConnect grant of $12.8 million that was announced in 2021. The Madison County will own the network and partner with Empire Access to provide services.
For more information, CLICK HERE to read an article in the Oneida Daily Dispatch.
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.