More Planning Grants, Variance in Updated Broadband Connectivity, Elon Musk Stepping Down as Twitter CEO

December 21, 2021 — The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Tuesday that 12 states and two tribal entities have been awarded planning grants through the Internet for All initiative.

The grants will support the expansion of high-speed internet access by funding data collection, mapping, regional planning, and other deployment and adoption programs. The funds will be disbursed through the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program and the $2.5 billion Digital Equity Act program.

California received $9 million, Illinois received $6.5 million, Indiana received $5.8 million, Michigan received $6.3 million, Nevada received $5.7 million, New Hampshire received $5.5 million, New Jersey received $6.1 million, Oklahoma received $5.8 million, Oregon received $5.7 million, Texas received $8.1 million, Vermont received $5.5 million, and Wyoming received $5.4 million. Tribal entities in Hawaii and Minnesota received $17.3 million and $18.8 million respectively.

All 50 states and six additional territories applied for the grant funding, and awards are being announced on a rolling basis.

The NTIA on Dec. 12 awarded grants to eight states and on Dec. 8 awarded grants to 12 states. Grants were given to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

County-by-county connectivity data could be used to challenge FCC’s map

Broadband connectivity varies widely both between and within states, according to the Technology Policy Institute’s Broadband Connectivity Index, which was recently updated with new data from the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Census.

The BCI assigns each county a score between 0.00 and 1.00 based on the availability and speed of internet service, as well as how many people have access to home internet.

One example of this wide variance is Arizona. Although the state has an average score of 0.67 — only slightly lower than the national average of 0.71 — its lowest-scoring 5 percent of counties are ranked lower than those in all but one other state.

On a broader level, the data indicates that most counties in the U.S. have fairly high rates of broadband access and adoption. However, it also shows that several counties still have extremely poor connectivity.

Because it incorporates and standardizes information from several different datasets, the BCI makes it possible to objectively compare connectivity across counties, TPI says. This data could be utilized to highlight areas where states should challenge the FCC’s new maps, as well as to help determine the allocation of subsidies and other resources, according to the TPI.

Elon Musk announces intent to resign as Twitter tumult continues

Elon Musk announced in a tweet on Tuesday his intention to resign as CEO of Twitter as soon as he found “someone foolish enough to take the job.

“After that, I will just run the software & servers teams,” he wrote.

The statement came after Musk posted a poll on Sunday asking viewers if he should step down as head of the company, just two months after taking ownership. Of the 17.5 million respondents to the poll, 57.5 percent voted “yes.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is deepening its investigation into Twitter’s data privacy practices, reported Bloomberg News on Tuesday. The agency reportedly questioned Twitter’s former chief security officer Damien Kieran and former chief information security officer Lea Kissner about the company’s compliance with a 2011 consent decree.

Twitter announced Sunday a new policy prohibiting tweets that contained links to or usernames for several other platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Mastadon, Truth Social and others. TikTok was notably absent from the list, sparking questions about Musk’s relationship with China through his other company, Tesla, and what that could mean for

Later that evening, Musk seemingly loosened the policy after receiving significant backlash, tweeting, “Casually sharing occasional links is fine.” Twitter’s official account deleted tweets announcing the new policy and it was removed from the company’s website, but it remains unclear how or if the policy will be implemented.