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Controversy Around 24 Gigahertz, Plus Rural Calls and Networks

Emily McPhie

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The Federal Communications Commission’s recent auction of the 24 GigaHertz (GHz) spectrum has been criticized by both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

One of the concerns raised by NOAA and NASA is the potential for interference with adjacent bands that collect important weather data by using microwave sensors.

“There is no reason to believe interference from commercial services will exceed the allowable limits in place now,” said telecommunications expert Joel Thayer in an interview with AEI. “Moreover, the importance of 24 GHz to 5G is indisputable.”

Opening up this spectrum will speed the deployment of 5G technologies, facilitating faster broadband speeds, lower consumer costs, and increased interconnectivity. In the past, former National Telecommunications and Information Administrator David Redl called the 24 GHz band a “key focus for 5G.”

Report critical of AT&T's impact on rural communities

New Communications Workers of America reports show that AT&T has made significant cuts to its workforce in several rural communities. In Ohio, the call center workforce has been reduced by 50 percent in the last two years; Indiana has seen an even greater reduction of 61 percent. Thousands of outside plant technicians and wireline workers have been laid off as well.

“AT&T has turned its back on rural and suburban communities in the Midwest by eliminating jobs, advocating for deregulation and cutting investments in these areas,” said CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton. “AT&T is failing the many communities that rely on the company’s services as a lifeline.

These reports follow the passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which AT&T lobbied for with the promise that it would use the resulting profits to create more middle-class jobs. Instead, the company has eliminated 23,000 jobs while increasing executive salaries.

FCC Wireline Competition Bureau webinar on rural network reliability

On Monday, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau in coordination with the Office of Communications Business Opportunities and the Wireline Competition Bureau hosted a webinar to discuss resources and practices for network reliability among rural providers.

Among other issues, speakers discussed how the organization of systems used by public safety authorities can impact the delivery of emergency services, how geographic information systems data can be utilized to support customer address validation, and mechanisms for connecting small networks to either a legacy SR or an ESInet to process 9-1-1 calls.

The webinar also provided an overview of the Universal Service Fund supply chain notice of proposed rulemaking, which follows the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act and the May 2019 executive order authorizing the Commerce Secretary to regulate the acquisition of communications technology from a “foreign adversary.”

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