It's budget season. Federal departments and agencies are making their funding requests to Congress for fiscal year 2021 (starting October 1, 2020 and ending September 30, 2021). And part of the ask is reporting how well an agency did achieving its FY 2019 goals. One of the primary goals of the Federal Communications Commission is to close the digital divide in rural America.
The Federal Communications Commission, in December 2018, launched an investigation into whether one or more major mobile providers violated the requirements to submit coverage maps to the FCC. FCC staff discovered that the coverage maps submitted by Verizon, U.S. Cellular, and T-Mobile likely overstated each provider’s actual coverage and did not reflect on-the-ground performance in many instances. Only 62.3% of staff drive tests achieved at least the minimum download speed predicted by the coverage maps—with U.S.
On November 5, the Federal Communications Commission gave its final OK, approving—with conditions—the transfer of control applications filed by T-Mobile and Sprint. T-Mobile's acquisition of Sprint was first announced April 29, 2018, touting the capacity to rapidly create a nationwide 5G network while offering lower prices, better quality, unmatched value, and greater competition. Is that where we've ended up? Although T-Mobile's acquisition of Sprint has gotten approval from both the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC, the deal isn't done yet.
Sacred Wind Communications was founded on the premise of “serving the unserved,” given the technological void that envelopes so many tribal communities in New Mexico. While the company continues to expand its broadband deployment initiatives among tribal communities in New Mexico, it still faces an uphill battle when trying to balance high infrastructure buildout costs with high consumer demand, particularly in remote Navajo communities.
Justice Department Settles with T-Mobile and Sprint in Their Proposed Merger by Requiring a Package of Divestitures to Dish
The Department of Justice announced that it and the Attorneys General for five states reached a settlement with T-Mobile and Sprint regarding their proposed merger. The settlement requires a substantial divestiture package in order to enable a viable facilities-based competitor to enter the market. Further, the settlement will facilitate the expeditious deployment of multiple high-quality 5G networks for the benefit of American consumers and entrepreneurs.
As we’ve made our case for the New T-Mobile, we’ve been listening to the Federal Communications Commission and many others. We submitted a set of commitments to the FCC around the New T-Mobile to address what we’ve heard. Ultimately, the commitments are about our shared goal to put the US at the forefront of 5G innovation, driving massive economic growth, helping bridge the Digital Divide, creating more competition, and of course, giving consumers and businesses more for less.
I know firsthand what it’s like living on the wrong side of the digital divide because my local community in rural Minnesota has been experiencing it for far too long. That is one of the reasons why I founded A Better Wireless, a wireless ISP that is seeking to connect rural Minnesotans who lack affordable broadband access.
Over the past few years, news of 5G – fifth generation wireless technologies – has grabbed too many headlines to count.
The Benton Foundation unequivocally opposes any proposals from the Federal Communications Commission that would allow the FCC to shirk its responsibilities to meet its Congressionally-mandated mission. The FCC is supposed to ensure:
One of the most disturbing aspects of the digital divide is the “homework gap.” The term – first coined by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel – describes the situation faced by the estimated 12 million students that cannot complete their school assignments because they have no broadband access at home. As she notes, roughly 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires a broadband connection, which means that many students, especially in low-income communities, are missing out on the educational opportunities afforded to their connected peers.