This edition notes the nexus of politics and broadband, including Net Neutrality—will SCOTUS rule?, The Politics of ACP, NY mandates low-income $15/month internet service, Altice surrenders more RODF, Acquisition and JV news, Fact Sheet on Municipal Broadband Growth, Nokia OLT BEAD production in WI, BEAD News and Initial Proposal Progress Dashboard.

    1. The FCC voted 4/25/24 to classify broadband services as a Title II telecommunications service, restoring net neutrality. A long-anticipated vote to restore net neutrality has forbidden internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization of lawful content. The vote reclassified broadband as a common carrier service, and subjected broadband service to regulatory oversight regarding consumer pricing. Read more.
    2. But will the US Supreme Court rule otherwise? The FCC’s new net neutrality rules likely have a rendezvous with the U.S. Supreme Court. A trip to the Supreme Court would not be unprecedented, seeing as the nine Justices decided a major net neutrality-related case involving cable broadband providers in 2005. The judicial scenario suggested isn’t inevitable. Congress could pass a new law, taking the issue from the FCC, and a Republican-controlled FCC could take power and gut the net neutrality rules adopted under FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. While Rosenworcel is highly confident in the lawfulness of her Internet rulebook, her agency will face an uphill battle to win five votes on a conservative-controlled Court that favors placing new limits on the reach of administrative state actors like the FCC. Read more.
    3. On the final day that full program benefits are offered under the Affordable Connectivity Program, officials in Washington rallied April 30th to emphasize the grave repercussions of the program’s imminent end. The internet subsidy program, which has been providing low or no-cost internet to 23 million American households for roughly two years now, was hailed by officials for addressing long-neglected affordability barriers that prevent some people from accessing the internet. One in six U.S. households has utilized the program since its inception. Of these, nearly half are military families. Over half are above age 50, and four million are seniors living on a fixed income. The program has bipartisan support among voters, and urban-rural backing. However, starting May 1st enrolled households will only receive a partial credit towards their monthly internet costs through May. In a month, these families will have to notify their provider on whether they are able to afford to continue their internet subscription or are opting to face disconnection. Read more.
      Altice USA, the third-largest cable ISP in the country, informed federal regulators on 4/19/24 that it intends to surrender broadband subsidy grants in three states, saying its decision would allow affected locations to become eligible for funding in other broadband support programs.
    4. With ACP gone, what impact will a new NY law have on other states? New York $15 Internet Mandate Has Providers Worried. Associations representing large and small broadband providers are presenting a united front in opposition to New York’s requirement that providers offer low-income internet service for $15 a month. …they are “disappointed” by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold New York’s mandatory $15-a-month offering. The associations said the mandate is rate regulation and implied that it isn’t needed because the industry is competitive. Read more.
    5. Altice USA to surrender RDOF Awards in three more states. Altice USA, the third-largest cable ISP in the country, informed federal regulators on 4/19/24 that it intends to surrender broadband subsidy grants in three states, saying its decision would allow affected locations to become eligible for funding in other broadband support programs. Altice told the FCC that it was giving up locations won in the RDOF reverse auction in 2020. The company listed 22 census block groups (CBGs) in all, including 12 in Kentucky, nine in Arkansas, and one in West Virginia. In March Altice relinquished RDOF awards in 18 CBGs in Louisiana, bringing to four the number of states in which the company has decided to give up broadband deployment subsidy projects. Read more
    6. Grain Management LLC has agreed to acquire a majority interest in 123NET, a fiber Internet, colocation and business voice provider that serves Michigan. 123NET’s management team will remain in place and hold “a meaningful” ownership position, the companies said. Grain Management has emerged as a fiber network consolidator in recent years. Among its acquisitions: Last April the company acquired Quintillion, a provider of connectivity in the American Arctic. In May 2021, it acquired Tachus LLC, a fiber broadband provider in Texas. Read more.

      According to Nokia, its OLTs and ONTs already power 70% of fiber broadband lines in North America.

    7. T-Mobile, EQT unveils fiber Joint Venture, with plans to acquire Lumos. T-Mobile and investment firm EQT announce joint venture to expand the carrier’s fiber broadband footprint. As part of the deal, the companies will acquire Mid-Atlantic FTTH provider Lumos. T-Mobile will invest an initial $950M in the JV, plus another $500M sometime between 2027-28. T-Mobile and EQT’s transaction is expected to close in late 2024 or early 2025, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Once the deal closes, T-Mobile plans to invest $950 million in the JV to acquire a 50% equity stake as well as all of Lumos’ existing fiber customers. Read more.
    8. As the municipal broadband movement continues to gain momentum, Community Networks created a new fact sheet to highlight the dramatic surge in the number of communities building publicly owned, locally controlled high-speed Internet infrastructure over the last three years. In January, they announced an updated tally of municipal broadband networks across the U.S., which showed that between January 2021 and January 2024 at least 47 new municipal networks had been lit up for service. Read more.

      Learn more about the dramatic surge in the number of communities building publicly owned, locally controlled high-speed Internet infrastructure over the last three years in the Rising Tide of Municipal Broadband Fact Sheet.
  1. And in Wisconsin news: With their first pick in the 2024 NFL draft the Green Bay Packers select Jordon Morgan, OT Arizona. Protect that young QB! As for industry-related Wisconsin news: Nokia makes its first Buy America products at a Wisconsin factory. Nokia’s new manufacturing plant in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, is now open and producing optical line terminals (OLTs) and optical network terminals (ONTs). Nokia is working with the manufacturer Sanmina to produce the products after the NTIA determined that OLTs and ONTs must be made in America to qualify for use in BEAD fiber projects. According to Nokia, its OLTs and ONTs already power 70% of fiber broadband lines in North America. Read more.
  2. More States Gain Full Approval of BEAD Proposals: $2 Billion in Funding Coming Their Way. Initial Proposals, including both Volumes 1 and 2, in the BEAD program from Kansas, Nevada and West Virginia have been approved, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The three states can now request access to funding and begin implementing the program. Kansas was authorized to receive $451.7 million, while Nevada will get $416.6 million and West Virginia will get $1.2 billion. Read more.

    The FCC has asked the US units of Chinese carriers, China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile to discontinue offering fixed or mobile broadband internet operations in the country.

  3. This dashboard allows anyone to track how BEAD Eligible Entities are progressing through the major milestones* necessary to earn NTIA approval of their Initial Proposal.
  4. FCC bars Chinese carriers from offering broadband services in US. The FCC has asked the US units of Chinese carriers, China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile to discontinue offering fixed or mobile broadband internet operations in the country. The service providers would be required to stop offering services within 60 days of the order being passed on April 25, 2024. The new order will also impact Pacific Networks and its wholly-owned subsidiary, ComNet. Read more.

David Levine of UCL Swift headshot

Broadband Bytes is a regular feature by David Levine. David is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, a certified BICSI RCDD, and a 35-year industry veteran in fiber and copper solutions. He currently works as a Business Development Manager for UCL Swift.

Need a Sales Rep?
close slider

 

Looking for a sales rep in your region?

 

Use our interactive mapping tool for direct lines, email, and locations.

See Map