Friday, November 6, 2020
Headlines Daily Digest
St. Clair County, about 100 miles southeast of Kansas City, has a population of about 9,000 people. Roughly 18% of them live below the poverty line. Theresa Heckenlively is the head of economic development for the county, and says lack of internet access is hurting the county now, and limiting its future. “We don’t have enough service to be reliable for home and definitely not enough for economic growth,” Heckenlively said. “We see that a lot of people are coming from out of state and want to move into our rural communities. And I see that long term they may not get what they need and internet access is a part of that.” Heckenlively recalled someone who had come looking for office space in town, but due to the lack of reliable access to broadband internet, could not find anywhere to operate their business. She also worries that young people who grew up with technology and are more plugged into the digital world may flee rural areas like St. Clair County to more urban areas with better access. “We would be able to maintain our population a little bit with more internet access,” Heckenlively said.
“Prior to the pandemic, we’ve been working for years to really advocate for closing the broadband digital divide, and trying to convey to legislators that if you live in rural Kansas, you’re not really getting the same level of service that’s available in more urban areas,” said Jade Piros de Carvalho, network service provider Ideatek’s director of industry and community relations. “It’s not just a luxury issue, right? It’s a quality of life issue. It’s an economic development issue. It’s an education issue.”
When we talk about spectrum policy innovation in 2020, dynamic spectrum sharing rests at the cutting edge. It’s become a powerful tool for squeezing the most value out of high-quality spectrum and meeting the growing demand for wireless services. Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) may have been the Federal Communications Commission’s first major foray into dynamic sharing, but it was hardly our last. One initiative that we’re really excited about is our work in the 6 GHz band. The topline is that we’re making the entire 6 GHz band—a massive 1,200 megahertz testbed for innovators and innovation—available for unlicensed use.
Let me close by shifting to white spaces. Just last week, the FCC adopted important additional changes to the operating and technical rules for white space devices that will expand their ability to deliver wireless services in many rural and underserved areas. What’s more, we’re also looking at whether we can open up even more white spaces for rural operators by incorporating smart modelling into the system—specifically, the Longley-Rice Irregular Terrain Model. I expect that these changes will spur further growth of the white space ecosystem and help close the digital divide.
The Federal Communications Commission announced that the Connected Care Pilot Program application window will open on Nov 6 and will remain open for 30 days through Dec 7, 2020. The Public Notice also provides additional guidance concerning the application submission process, prerequisites for the submission of an application, and provides examples of services eligible for support. The Pilot Program will provide up to $100 million from the Universal Service Fund over a three-year period to support the provision of connected care services.
The Connected Care Pilot Program is open to nonprofit and public eligible health care providers, located anywhere in the country. Specifically, the Pilot Program will use Universal Service Fund monies to help defray the costs of connected care services for eligible health care providers, providing support for 85% of the cost of eligible services and network equipment, which include: (1) patient broadband Internet access services; (2) health care provider broadband data connections; (3) other connected care information services; and (4) certain network equipment. The Pilot Program will not provide funding for end-user devices.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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