FCC Approves New Connectivity Fund for Schools, Libraries

The FCC unanimously agreed to enact the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program to provide resources for U.S. schools and libraries to buy laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots and broadband connections for online learning during the pandemic. Starting on May 12, the program, part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, will also provide $50 per month to low-income households and $75 to households on Native American lands to pay for broadband services and $100 towards buying a laptop or tablet. Continue reading FCC Approves New Connectivity Fund for Schools, Libraries

The Biden Plan to Deliver Broadband Internet to U.S. Homes

President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $100 billion to bring high-speed broadcast Internet to every home in the United States. The need for broadband became especially acute during the COVID-19 pandemic in which working, learning and shopping became largely remote. Although the digital divide was first identified during the Clinton administration, multiple government efforts to bridge it thus far have been unsuccessful. Biden also vowed to drive down prices for Internet to make it affordable for everyone. Continue reading The Biden Plan to Deliver Broadband Internet to U.S. Homes

Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) plans to introduce a bill in the next few weeks that would make net neutrality a law. “The coronavirus pandemic has proven that broadband is as essential as electricity and other utilities,” he said. “We need to restore net neutrality protections to ensure that our Internet remains open and free and that consumers can continue to benefit from this critical infrastructure.” Many Republicans still oppose net neutrality, and its existence has largely been subject to who chairs the FCC. Continue reading Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

President-elect Joe Biden and top Democratic allies in Congress, including James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), are focused on significantly increasing federal spending on broadband to improve Internet access and affordability, especially in rural areas. The effort is more urgent as the pandemic continues, and the first step towards this goal is part of the new coronavirus stimulus package. Biden already endorsed the relief bill, passed by the House, that includes $4 billion for Internet access to low-income Americans. Continue reading Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

Coronavirus Unites Washington Over Affordable Broadband

As Americans stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are revisiting the issue of closing the digital divide, as part of an effort to spur economic recovery and improve the U.S. competitive edge. House communications and technology subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) noted that, “having affordable broadband — it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” Both parties have stated interest in pushing legislation, noting that the pandemic gave impetus to the issue. Continue reading Coronavirus Unites Washington Over Affordable Broadband

FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

The Federal Communications Commission approved T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, a $26 billion merger that has been opposed by numerous state attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups. T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the nation’s third and fourth-largest wireless carriers, pioneered the end of early termination fees and reintroduction of unlimited data plans. The FCC, which is dominated by Republicans, lauded the deal as likely to speed up the adoption of 5G networks across the U.S. Meanwhile, a group of state attorneys general are continuing with a lawsuit that intends to fight the merger. Continue reading FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint yesterday, months after the Justice Department gave its approval. FCC chair Ajit Pai and Republican commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly indicated their support of the deal in May, believing that it would lead to a faster deployment of 5G. Democrats voted against the merger, and commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that it would lead to higher prices and less innovation, ultimately impacting consumers. A coalition of state attorneys general are still attempting to prevent the merger with a multistate lawsuit. Continue reading FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

Comcast has expanded its Internet Essentials program to make inexpensive broadband Internet available to any eligible low-income customer. Currently, according to U.S. Census data, in cities with the highest poverty rates, households are ten times more likely not to have broadband compared to households in wealthier cities. With Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest cable provider will help close the so-called digital divide, offering 15Mbps download speeds for $9.95 per month, which is $40 less than its typical service. Continue reading Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

CES Research Summit: Experts Consider 5G Tech, Use Cases

The advent of 5G doesn’t mean that 4G is going away any time soon, explained industry leaders at CES. “It’s not a light switch,” suggested AT&T Mobility vice president, IoT solutions Joe Mosele. “There’s still room for 4G LTE to grow, and it will continue to be a complement to 5G.” Boingo Wireless chief technology officer Derek Peterson added that, “we’ll see gigabit speeds on LTE.” “You’ll see continuous advancements with Wi-FI as a component as well as unlicensed spectrum and near-band IoT,” he said. “It’s an evolutionary cycle.”

Continue reading CES Research Summit: Experts Consider 5G Tech, Use Cases

CES Panel: Looking at 5G Use Cases and the Digital Divide

The recurring theme at CES 2019 is the promise of 5G wireless technology, as carriers such as Verizon begin their first moves into the space. Moderated by CTA’s Cindy Stevens, a group of technologists discussed some of the opportunities inherent in 5G networks for “hyper connectivity.” Microsoft principal group manager Pete Bernard noted that his company does not make 5G chips. “But we are an intelligent edge/cloud company,” he said. “5G is a catalyst technology that will enable our clients to move to the cloud more quickly.” Continue reading CES Panel: Looking at 5G Use Cases and the Digital Divide

Studies on Kids and Tech Flip the Meaning of Digital Divide

Experts are coming to grips with the impact of digital technology on children. Educators worried that students from poor homes would find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide, but, in fact, many states are spending money to make sure that all their students have access to computers, while Silicon Valley parents are choosing to raise their children with traditional toys and non-digital activities. The reason is that technologists are privy to recent research about the dangers of exposing kids to screen time. Continue reading Studies on Kids and Tech Flip the Meaning of Digital Divide

Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Facebook will end Explore, an experiment launched last fall in six countries that separated posts from news sites and publishers from other content. Publishers in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka said they were blindsided by the experiment, and that it led to a surprising amount of misinformation or fake news. The test put a “digital divide” between family/friends and brands and news sources. Facebook admits they should have communicated the experiment better to publishers. Continue reading Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

FCC: End of Net Neutrality Advances Broadband Deployment

The Federal Communications Commission, which had considered lowering the threshold for broadband announced that it has pulled back from that idea and will continue to define home broadband as speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps). The FCC also created a new standard of a 10Mbps connection for mobile broadband, and won’t define mobile Internet service as a replacement for home broadband, an idea it considered last year. The decisions are good news for those concerned about the digital divide. Continue reading FCC: End of Net Neutrality Advances Broadband Deployment

SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

According to a knowledgeable source, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to invest about $500 million more in satellite broadband provider OneWeb. That brings SoftBank’s total investment in the company to about $1.5 billion. OneWeb is a U.S. startup focused on providing Internet connectivity worldwide that is faster than current space-based or terrestrial systems. OneWeb founder/executive chairman Greg Wyler reports that the company is currently designing and looking for suppliers for its next-generation satellites. Continue reading SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

New FCC Chairman Calls for Expansion of High-Speed Internet

FCC chair Ajit Pai recommends Congress include expanded broadband Internet service in upcoming infrastructure legislation. “The one consistent message I hear is that there is a thirst for better, faster, cheaper Internet access… I think members of Congress get that as well,” he said. Pai’s broadband deployment agenda “is aimed at encouraging telecommunications firms to make high-speed Internet service more widely available in hard-to-serve areas,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “President Donald Trump has indicated he wants an infrastructure initiative worth as much as $1 trillion to improve the nation’s roads, bridges and other physical assets, which would require legislation and, potentially, a way to pay for it.” Continue reading New FCC Chairman Calls for Expansion of High-Speed Internet

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