Features + Reporting
Hi, I'm Nicole. I'm a writer and storyteller based in NYC where I've worked as a tech journalist and editor in b2b and consumer media for 15+ years.
Today I cover broadband and the digital divide for Light Reading, where I also host "The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast.
Pre-pandemic, I hosted/performed in many live storytelling shows, including an award-winning solo show "Why So Much Shame?" I also created and ran Art, Humanity & Action: a series of live events, podcasts, and workshops to humanize policy issues and raise funds for local organizing.
Features + Reporting
In a note, Jessica Rosenworcel reiterated the January 13th deadline as the 'best opportunity for your availability challenge to be resolved ahead of NTIA's planned funding time frame.'
As the NTIA distributes funding for states to start drawing up their BEAD plans, many are turning to broadband consultants for help.
The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation held a final broadband hearing for 2022, calling continued attention to mapping issues, the fragile future of ACP and USF, and BEAD barriers.
Here are some of the broadband policy matters facing the outgoing and incoming US Congress that will help determine the implementation of BEAD and more.
The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition is urging the FCC to include community anchor institutions as broadband serviceable locations by default in the next version of its map.
The public can review the first version of the FCC's National Broadband Map and submit challenges to location and availability data.
The state said the initial iteration of the FCC's broadband map undercounts New York's digital divide by 31,000 locations. The FCC will debut a first draft of the new map this month.
Regarding SpaceX's requests that the US fund Starlink in Ukraine, a DoD official said they've 'identified the need for a SATCOM capability' and are exploring 'all options.'
Despite outcry from the East Carroll community, Cable One says Sparklight will persist with challenging Conexon's $4 million grant to build broadband.
In a public notice Wednesday, the FCC said that fixed wireless startup Starry had 'planned to default on all its winning bids.'
Viasat urged the FCC to deny Starlink's effort to appeal the commission's rejection of its RDOF awards, noting a 'steep decline' in performance. But Starlink says it will meet speed needs later.
'Sparklight has not satisfied its burden of proof to establish that it provides reliable service to the applied-for areas,' said Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of Louisiana's broadband office.
Through 'Big Apple Connect,' New York will subsidize Altice and Charter to deliver free service to NYCHA residents. Verizon is TBD, said the city.
Meanwhile, data shows the program is still only reaching 36.5% of eligible households and could run out of funds by March 2025.
Broadband is on the ballot for millions of US voters this year, with some states and counties seeking to amend their constitutions or bypass laws to make room for federal funding.
'We just think spaces should come with Internet infrastructure,' said Anil Varanasi, CEO of Meter, a startup with $50 million in funding to change how commercial spaces get connected.
The research, which focuses on broadband access in Philadelphia, comes as the FCC is considering policy recommendations and rules changes to eliminate 'digital discrimination.'
Small ISPs are scrambling to meet a September 1 deadline to submit coverage data to the FCC, or risk being locked out of the $42.5 billion BEAD program.
A list of Light Reading's coverage of Q2 2022 earnings calls, and whether or not women participated on each one.
The FCC denied RDOF awards for Starlink and LTD, prompting cheers from the fiber industry and jeers from a fellow FCC commissioner, who said he learned the news while 'on a work trip.'
The state's first ConnectAll grant will help fund an open access fiber build in the Village of Sherburne that the mayor says has been years in the making.
Many in the industry have been raising concerns about the federal government's 'Buy America' rules for subsidized broadband builds. But some also see an opportunity.
SpaceX and Viasat both cited speed test data in their latest opposing arguments to the FCC on whether Starlink's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund bids should be approved.
As Yellowstone Fiber builds out its open access network in Gallatin County, Montana, the company is now looking to ARPA and BEAD grants to reach the most unserved parts of the region.
While NTIA's notice of funding opportunity prioritizes fiber builds for those applying for BEAD grants, a 'high-cost threshold' exception has been a point of concern for fiber advocates.
The FCC's recently closed public comment period on the state of "digital discrimination" in the US highlights a rift between advocacy organizations and Internet service providers (ISPs), with the latter group in defensive mode over a practice some ISPs say doesn't exist.
A report released this month finds that 97.4% of New York is considered "served" by high-speed Internet access (at least 100/20 Mbit/s) from two providers or more. But a closer look at the data reveals deeper disparities, including a lack of competition and affordable options in various regions of the state.
One Country Project, led by former Senator Heidi Heitkamp – a Democrat – is launching a campaign claiming that Sohn 'is the wrong choice for the FCC and rural America.'
A new push fronted by a rural political action committee to defeat President Biden's pick for FCC Commissioner, Gigi Sohn, may be coming from lobbyists for ISPs.
Rhode Island lawmakers called a multi-million-dollar Cox investment 'an effort to catch up on years of neglect' and renewed their push for a dedicated advisory council to plan out the state's broadband future.
The playbook offers states a guide to navigating broadband funding opportunities in the Biden administration's infrastructure bill – and stresses the need to spend funds on future-proof technology.
Plus, Internet outages in and around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant are raising alarm about the inability to monitor and publish radiation levels.
The GAO denied a protest brought by LightBox, permitting the FCC to move forward with CostQuest as the US broadband map maker. But LightBox's CEO said a 'key element' of its protest wasn't considered and the company may pursue further legal paths.
At a hearing on Tuesday, senators pressed Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on the department's prep work to distribute tens of billions of dollars in broadband grants, and when the FCC will finish the national broadband map needed to get the process started.
Regional service blackouts and uncertainty for the path ahead are cause for concern about how long telecommunications services will stay active.
Elon Musk confirmed deployment of SpaceX's Starlink satellite Internet service in Ukraine this weekend – but security experts warn the uplink transmissions may increase the risk of airstrikes.
According to a draft notice of inquiry, the federal agency will soon invite public comments on how to write its rules in order to eliminate and regulate digital discrimination.
In a public notice on Tuesday, the federal agency set data collection dates for its long-anticipated broadband map.
Government leaders from across the US joined an event hosted by the FCC to discuss how funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law can be used to close the digital divide in Black communities.
The open access muni network may be unloved by incumbents, but its 2021 growth numbers show continued momentum in Utah and beyond.
The new rules ban revenue-sharing agreements for ISPs and multi-tenant environments, require disclosure of exclusive marketing arrangements and close loopholes with indoor cable wiring regulations.
The Broadband World News community site is intended for ultra-broadband network operators, ISPs, content and video service providers, regulators, investors and municipal/smart city network developers who must ensure that they are up to date with all of the technology, services, standards and strategic developments impacting the high-speed broadband access network sector.
In comments on the NTIA's $42.45 billion BEAD grant program, fiber and fixed wireless industry advocates pitched their interpretation of how best to use the funding to reach the infrastructure law's goals.
Montana has tapped LightBox for its broadband map, to be published 'very soon,' according to Chad Rupe, the state's broadband program manager.
Short application windows, exclusionary legal language and, indeed, a lack of Internet access complicate the process of getting broadband funding where it's needed most.
The agency is mandated by the Biden administration's infrastructure law to adopt regulations for easy-to-understand labels that allow consumers to comparison shop for broadband services.
The FCC said the new rules are in response to ISPs engaging in 'a pattern of new practices that inhibit competition' in apartment buildings and other multi-tenant environments.
Last year saw a 56% increase in global Internet disruptions, according to the Internet Society, with the largest number of shutdowns by far occurring in India.
Davidson's confirmation comes not a moment too soon, with the federal agency he now heads responsible for $48 billion in state broadband grant funding.
The multi-part plan includes efforts already underway, as well as new grant programs designed to support and expedite rural broadband access.
In response, SpaceX filed a letter calling Viasat's complaint a 'sideshow' and said it is working with the commission to demonstrate it 'will meet all of its RDOF obligations.'
Key takeaways on industry infighting, muni networks, maps and more from 42 episodes of The Divide podcast.
Through the de Blasio administration's Internet Master Plan, local firms BlocPower and People's Choice Communications (PCC) are delivering low-cost broadband by and for the people of New York.
BroadbandNow finds that the vast majority of eligible households have not signed up for the $50 broadband subsidy.
The project, mandated through the state's Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act, will result in a detailed Internet access map to be published in May 2022.
Rosenworcel's official designation as chair (a position she's held in an acting capacity) makes her the first woman to helm the federal agency.
A district court prevented the Affordable Broadband Act (ABA) from taking effect pending litigation brought by ISPs. Now states and advocacy groups are siding with New York on its appeal.
With few legislative days left on the calendar, the US Senate Commerce Committee held a confirmation hearing on Wednesday for President Biden's nominees for NTIA head, Alan Davidson, and FCC Commissioner, Gigi Sohn.
The startup hopes its work on a fiber build for an Arkansas co-op, completed almost two years ahead of schedule, will make the case that these networks can be built more efficiently with the right tools.
In a confirmation hearing before the US Senate today, FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel discussed the agency's crucial work on broadband mapping and said it has selected a bidder for the national broadband serviceable location fabric.
In the FCC's largest round of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) yet, which saw electric cooperatives as the walkaway winners, over $435 million was designated for Conexon Connect, a fiber ISP providing service through local co-ops.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said at a White House press briefing that closing the digital divide will be a 'massive undertaking' and shared details on oversight plans and requirements for state funding.
Without a permanent chair or adequate staff, and at risk of losing its Democratic majority, the FCC will fail to make meaningful progress on crucial broadband programs, a former agency official warns.
New Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies report offers key recommendations for policymakers to expand broadband in Black communities across the rural south.
Interview with digital health equity consultant Dr. Amy Sheon on the impact of the digital divide on public health, how health policy and broadband policy need to intersect in order to address this problem and more.
Residents of Turney, Missouri – a village in Clinton County – have a new way to connect to the Internet. And stakeholders hope the experiment will help tackle the digital divide in the rural area.
A worsening climate crisis that has exacted a toll on cables, fiber lines and wireless towers is making clear how vulnerable that critical infrastructure is.
New Ookla speed test data shows the US falling from the top ten countries for fixed-broadband speeds, while Monaco moved from tenth place in 2020 to first in 2021.
On this episode, we hear from Eric Frank, CEO of LightBox, a real estate information and technology platform, on the company's new nationwide Internet connectivity map. While the FCC's most recent estimate shows 14.5 million Americans lacking Internet access, LightBox today puts that number at a much larger 60 million, or one in six Americans.
A new survey from Allconnect shows that 87% of Americans consider Internet access an 'essential' utility, but only 16% call universal broadband access a top priority.
When the US Congress eventually gets an infrastructure package to President Biden's desk, it will contain $65 billion for broadband, the country's most significant investment in Internet infrastructure to date. But several states aren't waiting around for that influx of cash to make multi-million-dollar investments toward closing their digital divides.
The $65 billion broadband bill seeks to prioritize an equitable path toward a universally connected future.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $6 billion broadband bill that, among other things, will fund construction of a state-owned fiber network.
A new report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) makes the case that the broadband speed standard of 25Mbit/s download and 3Mbit/s upload is insufficient.
A bipartisan group of US Senators is getting closer to finalizing the broadband policy provisions to be included in the Biden administration's $1 trillion infrastructure package.
The need may be there, but any effort to establish a long-term benefit will face hurdles in a Congress that has already shaved $35 billion from Biden's initial proposal for universal broadband.
A new tool from Pew Charitable Trusts gives a breakdown of state-by-state strategies on improving access to broadband across the US.
LightBox, a commercial real estate information and technology platform, believes it has the data and tools necessary to correctly map the US digital divide.
As lawmakers in Washington, DC, prepare to go home for the Memorial Day holiday, the fate of President Biden's broadband infrastructure plan (and the infrastructure package as a whole) remains unclear.
The FCC asserts that over 900 broadband providers have signed up to participate in the program, but some customers seeking the subsidy say that ISPs are trying to push them into higher-priced packages.
And why cable companies are 'terrified' of municipally provided broadband expansion.
As the Emergency Broadband Benefit program opens for enrollment, a new report says the federal agency is drastically under-representing the digital divide.
The five providers, chosen through a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) from the city issued last year, will deliver high-speed Internet for up to 30,000 NYCHA residents.
As the Biden/Harris administration continues to seek and build support for its $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, the White House issued a series of report cards for individual states, grading their overall infrastructure and outlining weaknesses in specific categories, including broadband.
US Ignite and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the winning projects of Project Overcome today, a $2.7 million effort to accelerate broadband delivery to unserved and underserved communities using novel broadband technology solutions.
As part of a new data collection effort on broadband service and availability in the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is going right to the people for details on their experience.
No doubt this was an ambitious and laudable project to connect people in the hardest-to-reach places, but that a Google/Alphabet company can't find the means to keep such an important service alive is disappointing and doesn't bode well for companies' collective will to do what's necessary to address the digital divide.
Fitness data needs an AI revolution How might we harness AI for a more personal approach to health?
Work is underway to expand 5G networks in the United States. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, for example, have been racing to rebuild their networks at the edge in order to enable the low-latencies and ultra-high-speeds that 5G promises.
Following a legal battle, the City of New York and Verizon have come to an agreement that requires Verizon to expand broadband service to 500,000 of the city's households.
Internet speeds in New York lag 25% behind Delaware, Virginia and Massachusetts, according to new speed-and-housing data from financial comparison site Money.co.uk.
Voters in two major US cities were in favor of municipal broadband programs, opening the door to more local competition for ISPs.
K-12 computer science teacher Scott Dooley a few years ago was facing a conundrum: he saw massive job growth in cybersecurity and a pipeline of great entry-level jobs, but he couldn't find the right resources or content to connect his students with the opportunities to truly learn cybersecurity and gain an interest in the field.
As more regions commit to supporting full-fiber broadband, some telcos are raising issues with obstructions in their paths.
As we move toward a future of endless applications that demand accelerated processing and ultra-low latency - for everything from VR and AR consumption to autonomous vehicles, personalized retail, real-time health diagnostics and beyond - telcos are seizing the opportunity to reimagine their network architecture and rebuild for the emerging edge computing opportunity.
With $1.945 million in NSF funding, US Ignite launches 'Project Overcome' to accelerate broadband delivery to unserved and underserved communities.
A new initiative will run throughout the month of October, invites the general public to play cybersecurity games (and win fabulous prizes). What are your plans for Cybersecurity Awareness Month: changing your passwords, attending a few webinars, upgrading your firewall? How about spending the month playing games in a virtual Cyber Carnival?
New report from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) calls out AT&T for 'digital redlining.'
The dream of RASP is to empower applications to protect themselves. How close do current implementations get to living the dream? Here's what to know. One of the hopeful appsec solutions to emerge in the past decade is runtime application self-protection (RASP).
The ISP's previous outage in late 2018 triggered an FCC investigation.
Two recent reports on smart-locks vulnerabilities show that IoT vendors have a bigger job to do in ensuring their products are safely deployed and configured. According to Grand View Research, the global smart-lock market size was valued at $1.2 billion in 2019, with over 7 million devices sold that year alone.
A delegate made an appeal for rural broadband during the DNC's roll call nominating Joe Biden from the state of Montana, which ranks last in the US for Internet access.
Honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, meet 12 suffragists who fought for women's voting rights.
Estimates show that by 2021, there will be some 3.5 million unfilled jobs in cybersecurity. That's worrisome for a field under more pressure than ever to protect enterprises adjusting to a new and unsecure world of remote work.
Job market data from the second quarter suggests there are increasing opportunities for women and minorities in the world of remote work, but long-standing biases may provide resistance.
Attacks against travel-related websites are on the rise as the industry begins to slowly recover from COVID-19, new data shows. With summer holidays, long weekends, and relaxed restrictions on staying at home, the suffering travel industry is seeing some reemerging signs of life: organic visits to car rental websites have grown by 285% since April 1 after a significant drop in traffic during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, ransomware attacks were on the rise and becoming more expensive. Now your, um, friend's organization has fallen victim and is going to pay. Here's how they should handle it.
With grocery delivery in higher demand than ever, new add-ons have emerged to secure slots for consumers, presenting a new pathway for bad bots to wreak havoc. In the strange new era of COVID-19, securing a grocery delivery slot can sometimes feel like hitting the lottery.
The FCC's 2020 Broadband Deployment report is based on flawed data and is out of step with reality, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel claims.
As more so-called Internet of Medical Things devices go online, hospitals and medical facilities face significant challenges in securing them from attacks that could endanger patients' lives.
"The Divide" is an interview series I host for Light Reading about how to end the digital divide with better policies and business practices. Here's a running list of episodes.
"Our House" was a podcast series I wrote and hosted for Art, Humanity & Action, featuring personal stories from activists. Here's an episode archive.
Personal Essays + Storytelling
At 16, my friends and I were savoring summer’s final moments. We wandered Whitestone’s desolate streets, sweating through winter garb, as helicopters doused our town with pesticides.
I blinked my eyes open. Early morning sunlight sneaked through the blinds on my window, casting a glow on the mess on my floor. Sitting up, I saw my bedroom in complete disarray. There were ripped Hefty bags and stuffed animals spanning twenty-four years strewn across my rug...
Technology writer Nicole Ferraro finds the one person who can't be contacted on the world wide web: its inventor.
Dad died when I was 6, and life went on seemingly undeterred. All these years later, I find myself envious of those who have the chance to mourn.
Personal storytelling filmed live at the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, NY.
As Editorial Director at The Webby Awards, I wrote and directed this short film honoring teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg with the Webby Award for Social Movement of the Year. Narrated by actress Rebecca Hall.
As Editorial Director at The Webby Awards, I wrote and directed this short film honoring Uber whistleblower Susan Fowler with the Webby Award for Person of the Year. Narrated by actress Molly Ringwald.
As Editorial Director at The Webby Awards, I wrote and directed this short film honoring Dr. Sue Black, which ran at The Lovie Awards celebration in London, for her pioneering contributions to the Internet and computing culture.