FCC's Lifeline overhaul sets fire to a bridge over the digital divide

[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.

Windstream racks up 13k broadband adds in Q1

Windstream lit up 129,000 new locations with its Kinetic fiber service in Q1 2021, as it pushed toward a goal of extending gigabit capabilities to a total of 1 million homes and businesses by the end of 2021.

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.

Frontier plans 495,000 new fiber passings in 2021

Frontier Communications emerged from bankruptcy. The company's new strategy has everything to do with deploying more fiber. Frontier plans to double its fiber network to ultimately pass more than 6 million homes and businesses. In 2021, it plans to extend its fiber to pass 495,000 more locations. It’s already extended the network to pass an additional 100,000 new locations in the first quarter. Frontier’s network, comprised of fiber and copper connections, spans 25 states.

Charter spotlights growth opportunities around upselling, Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

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.

AT&T gives gratis bump-up in fiber speeds

AT&T Fiber is giving its customers a free bump in speeds, boosting its 100 Mbps customers to 300 Mbps, and its 300 Mbps customers to 500 Mbps. AT&T will still offer its 1 gig plan as well, and these customers get HBO Max included. For a number of years fiber has been regarded as too expensive to deploy in most places. But the Covid-19 pandemic is causing a renewed interest. With so many people working and learning from home, they’re clamoring for faster broadband. And they’d like it to provide symmetrical downstream and upstream speeds.

AT&T’s wireless wherewithal in question

Even though AT&T reported a strong first quarter for wireless subscribers, some analysts think the operator may be stepping off the 5G playing field as it focuses on other parts of its business. “It appears that management has chosen to focus its limited resources on HBO Max and on fiber deployments rather than try to keep pace with the network investments Verizon and T-Mobile are making in wireless,” wrote New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin. New Street has pointed out before that AT&T’s plan for mid-band 5G, including C-band deployment timelines and capital spending, trai

AT&T lands in union crosshairs

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union took note of AT&T’s report that showed “robust first quarter earnings,” with net profit up 60% year over year. But the company continues to cut jobs and reduce retail operations, which does not sit well with the union. AT&T has closed 549 corporate retail stores over the past year, and even though it has converted many stores into dealer stores, that shrinking corporate retail footprint results in lower wages for wireless retail workers, according to CWA.