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Broadband Roundup: House Democrats Criticize FCC on T-Mobile Merger, Kansas City Broadband, 5G in LA

Masha Abarinova



Photo of Frank Pallone in May 2017 by New America Foundation used with permission

House Energy Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., sent a letter Monday to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai regarding the lack of transparency in the FCC’s approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger.

Pallone and Nadler are concerned that the original analysis drafted by the FCC’s merger task force was supplemented by a later analysis that downplayed the competitive harms of the merger.

“In addition,” the chairmen wrote, “the failure to seek additional public comment after the parties entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice raises additional procedural concerns.”

Pallone and Nadler also expressed concerns about ex parte conversations that took place between representatives of T-Mobile and the FCC Commissioners. This refers to orders granted on the request of and for the benefit of one party only.

“Simply from a public policy perspective,” the Chairmen continued, “permitting the parties to provide such scant reporting in the record is a gross abrogation of FCC responsibility, and undermines the critical transparency that is a necessary part of this process.”

Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Caolition highlights progress and challenges of broadband in Kansas City

Kansas City has made significant progress in broadband, according to a Schools Health & Libraries Coalition report, yet the city’s overall adoption rate still lies below the national average.

The combined Kansas Cities in both Kansas and Missouri, John Windhausen writes, increased their broadband adoption by 16.5 percent from 2013 to 2018. Yet broadband adoption by low-income families significantly lags behind the national average and those of similar cities.

For broadband adoption to improve, said Dr. John Horrigan, internet providers need to offer more affordable prices, as cities embrace partnerships with anchor institutions to promote digital literacy training and awareness. The SHLB Coalition also suggests that policymakers could broaden the definition of “universal service” to allow E-rate participants to extend their networks to low-income households in the community.

Verizon touts beginning of 5G network service in some parts of Los Angeles

Verizon announced Monday that it has turned on its 5G network in parts of Los Angeles, marking the carrier’s 19th city to get its new network.

The carrier promised to release maps of the exact locations of service by Friday. Customers interested in using 5G will need to make sure they have a compatible 5G device, such as the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, as well as a recent Verizon unlimited plan that supports 5G.

T-Mobile and AT&T also recently expanded their 5G coverage in the area with the launch of their respective low-band 5G networks. Low-band is much slower than the speedy millimeter-wave technology, but it does offer significantly better coverage and can work indoors, two things that millimeter-wave has trouble with.

Verizon previously announced 10 cities that will be getting 5G coverage in 2019, although the exact dates that these networks will go online are uncertain.


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