BBWN Bites: 2.2 billion children, youths lack Internet at home – report
Also in today's roundup: UK gets Starlink; US House Democrats demand answers from ISPs; Wisconsin and New York governors share broadband proposals at 'State of the State.'
- The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about no shortage of stories about suffering students unable to connect to the Internet for remote school. A new report from UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) adds some stark numbers to that picture. According to the report (straightforwardly titled "How Many Children and Youth Have Internet Access at Home"), 2.2 billion (or two thirds) of the world's school-age children and youths do not have an Internet connection in their homes. Drilling down by country and region, the report underscores how this disproportionately impacts students in West and Central Africa, with only 5% of children and young people in those regions having Internet access at home, compared to the 33% global average. Read more about the report's implications for students in Africa on our sister site, Connecting Africa: 95% of children in West and Central Africa don't have Internet at home.
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- SpaceX's Starlink satellite Internet service is now available in the UK, following its receipt of a license from government regulator Ofcom. As Padraig Belton reports reports on Light Reading, Starlink will focus on delivering service to rural parts of the UK that have been missed by fiber. Costs for the service include £439 (US$593) for the equipment and £89 ($120) per month for the service.
- The governors of New York and Wisconsin both incorporated plans for broadband in their "State of the State" speeches this week, laying out priorities for the year ahead. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has dubbed 2021 the "Year of Broadband Access," proposing nearly $200 million in spending for broadband expansion and subsidies in the 2021-23 state budget. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that number is "five times the amount included in the 2013, 2015 and 2017 budgets combined." New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, has announced somewhat vague intentions to mandate that all service providers offer a $15/month high-speed Internet option for low-income families. Further, in cooperation with the Ford Foundation, Cuomo announced a new hardship fund to "close the homework gap." According to a press release, the fund would pay for Internet subscriptions during the pandemic for students who cannot afford $15 monthly.
- This week US service provider execs received a round of stern letters from Democrats serving on the House Energy & Commerce Committee who are concerned about how the country's largest ISPs have been behaving during the COVID-19 crisis. The letters – issued to Altice USA, AT&T, CenturyLink/Lumen, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Frontier, T-Mobile and Verizon – express dismay that service providers are increasing prices and imposing data caps as the pandemic rages on: "One major internet service provider is raising prices on its internet plans and re-imposing – and expanding the reach of – data caps on home internet plans. This is an egregious action at a time when households and small businesses across the country need high-speed, reliable broadband more than ever but are struggling to make ends meet," write the lawmakers. The letters also list questions specific to the providers' decisions during the pandemic, from their commitment to the FCC's Keep America Connected pledge to whether or not providers have imposed new caps or fees since March 2020 and beyond. Lawmakers have asked for answers by January 25, 2021.
— Nicole Ferraro, contributing editor, Light Reading
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will present our Cable Next-Gen Europe conference as a free digital symposium on June 21.
Charter has sparked RDOF work in all 24 states where it won bids. The cable op booked about $19 million in RDOF revenues in Q1, and expects to have about $9 million per month come in over the next ten years.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will stage the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference as a free digital event over two half-days in mid-March.
Launch of 2-Gig and 5-Gig FTTP tiers in 70-plus markets puts more pressure on cable ops to enhance their existing DOCSIS 3.1 network or accelerate their upgrade activity centered on the new DOCSIS 4.0 specs.
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