[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission took its first major step toward overhauling the controversial Lifeline program in a move that will punish not just low-income citizens but perhaps small, innovative service providers as well. Yes, Lifeline was once teeming with fraud, waste and abuse. Yes, the program still has significant flaws. And yes, companies that fail to provide adequate services should be forever barred from Lifeline for preying on some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Few probably would have guessed that the telecommunications industry would still be waiting around in late July for the Biden Administration to name a permanent Federal Communications Commission chair, but that’s where things stand. One name that has been floated in recent weeks is that of long-time public activist Gigi Sohn [a senior fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society], who was on the staff of former Chairman Tom Wheeler and led the consumer group Public Knowledge for more than a decade.
AT&T executives hailed growing momentum in its fiber business after posting strong net additions in Q2 and predicted the pace of subscriber growth will pick up in the back half of the year as large swaths of new coverage come online. The operator added 246,000 consumer fiber customers in the quarter, more than offsetting non-fiber broadband and DSL losses to achieve 28,000 total consumer broadband net additions. The latter figure compared to a net loss of 102,000 in the year-ago period.
Long-time analyst Craig Moffett said "AT&T has let Dish off the hook" in Dish's new services agreement with AT&T, which guarantees AT&T at least $5 billion in wholesale revenue over ten years. With a two-year “transition period” on top, it is arguably more like a twelve-year deal, and that’s a “huge, game-changing win” for Dish, Moffett said.
The Federal Communications Commission has yet to distribute funding to the winners of its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction, but that isn’t stopping Charter Communications from getting to work on rural coverage expansion projects. Charter handed Gibson Technical Services a contract to handle construction for its RDOF projects in Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina.