Competitive Carriers Association warns up to $1 billion of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund could be wasted
The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) warned the Federal Communications Commission is about to misspend millions in federal broadband funds, sending money to locations where it isn’t actually needed, due to faulty coverage maps. Specifically, CCA flagged money set to be distributed as part of Phase I of the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program. CCA CEO Steve Berry said, “We knew the data was not accurate.
Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge highlighted the company’s potential to upsell broadband customers as data usage grows but noted it didn’t yet feel the need to pursue a rollout of symmetrical capabilities. The broadband provider saw "significant growth in data usage per internet customer” in Q1 2021, stating this had reached an average of about 700 GB per month.
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg predicted strong demand for broadband would persist well beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, as the operator posted its highest number of Q1 Fios Internet net additions in six years. The company added a total of 102,000 Fios Internet customers across its consumer and business segments, with nearly all of these (98,000) coming from the former.
Consolidated Communications CEO Bob Udell highlighted 5G and public-private partnerships as two key opportunities for providers to close the broadband gap in the rural US, but warned state-level restrictions could hamper the latter’s potential. The company recently set a goal to cover at least 70% of its footprint with gigabit broadband services by 2025.
Comcast is finally gearing up to move on its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal with Verizon. Apparently, Comcast has created a new Mobile Division which will operate under the leadership of former executive vice president of sales and marketing operations Greg Butz. Butz will report directly to Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit. In addition to serving in Comcast’s sales and marketing department, Butz also formerly worked on business development for Comcast Cellular Communications in the early 1990’s. Comcast sold Comcast Cellular to SBC for $1.7 billion in 1999.
Apparently, the move follows Comcast’s activation of its MVNO rights with Verizon. Comcast secured those rights as part of the sale of its spectrum to Verizon in 2011. Comcast also has an active MVNO agreement with Sprint. Comcast said the changes are part of its “testing and learning” phase leading up to the actual launch of services. The representative declined to give a timeline for deployment of wireless services, saying only that the company is “really early in the process” and will “continue to evaluate the space.” “We think the wireless represents a strong business opportunity for Comcast, but we’re still in the testing and learning mode,” a representative said. Comcast’s representative said it was possible the company’s future wireless services would be bundled in with its other offerings, since many of its products are already bundled. Most Comcast customers subscribe to two or three products, the representative said.