Communication at a distance, especially the electronic transmission of signals via cell phones
Low-income households are spending too much on connectivity. Prior to the pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program supported mainly wireless communication services for low-income households; its $9.25/month subsidy resulting in service plans that restricted voice and data usage. To address Americans’ online connectivity needs during the pandemic, Congress directed the FCC to launch the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program—a historic expansion of financial support for universal service.
Universal service is the principle that all Americans should have access to essential communications services, like phones and broadband. You may not have heard much about it, but a universal service crisis is right around the corner. Due to Federal Communications Commission inaction, nearly 800,000 people could lose phone service on December 1. On that day, changes in the FCC’s Lifeline program, which provides a modest monthly discount for communications services, mean that voice-only services like a home landline telephone and/or a cellphone will no longer be eligible for the discount.
With great drama, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 became law on December 27, 2021. The $2.3 trillion COVID relief and government spending bill extended unemployment benefits and ensured the government can keep running. The $900 billion COVID relief provision includes over $7 billion to help improve connectivity in the U.S.
In October 2019, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society issued Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s. The agenda was comprehensive, constructed upon achievements in communities and insights from experts across the nation. The report outlined the key building blocks of broadband policy—deployment, competition, community anchor institutions, and digital equity (including affordability and adoption).
Verizon agreed to buy TracFone, a provider of wireless prepaid services, in a deal worth up to $7 billion in cash and stock, further consolidating the US cellular market. TracFone, a unit of Mexico’s América Móvil SAB, has about 21 million prepaid customers in the US under its namesake brand as well as StraightTalk and Net10. The company doesn’t run its own physical network in the US and instead rides on other cellphone carriers’ systems for a fee and then resells service under its own brands.
Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court in Manhattan ruled in favor of T-Mobile’s takeover of Sprint in a deal that would further concentrate corporate ownership of technology, combining the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers and creating a new telecommunications giant to take on AT&T and Verizon. The decision concluded an unusual suit filed in June by attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia. The challenge was brought after regulators at the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission approved the deal.
In Washington, DC, today, policymakers, public interest advocates and nonprofits, researchers, and the business community are gathering for the 2020 State of the Net Conference. Hosted by the Internet Education Foundation, State of the Net explores important, emerging trends and their impact on internet policy.
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.
To address the loss of a mobile communications competitor that will result from the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has proposed a solution that seeks to enable DISH Network to emerge as a fourth national facilities-based wireless carrier. From an engineering perspective, however, DOJ’s approach to enabling DISH’s deployment is not guaranteed to prove adequate to maintain competition comparable to that currently offered over Sprint’s network.
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.