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Coronavirus Roundup: Amdocs Joins CBRS System, FCC Waives Some Lifeline Rules, Groups Want Cheaper Broadband

David Jelke

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Amdocs photo used with permission

Amdocs, a software and services provider to communications companies, announced Wednesday that the Federal Communications Commission has authorized its Spectrum Access System be available for commercial deployment within the Citizens Broadband Radio Service.

The SAS approval follows FCC review of Amdocs’ initial commercial deployment report and consultation with the Defense Department and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The FCC’s approval means that Amdocs will now join  Google, CommScope, Federated Wireless, and Sony as a SAS Administrator on a commercial basis.

CBRS brings the concept of shared spectrum to mainstream wireless broadband and mobility services and is also driving the expansion of private wireless networks, fixed-mobile convergence applications, and enhanced rural broadband services, all operating in the 3.5 GigaHertz band of wireless frequencies.

FCC waives some Lifeline requirement during coronavirus pandemic

The FCC on Wednesday made it easier for individuals who have lost their employment during the coronavirus pandemic and who qualify for Lifeline benefits to enroll in the Lifeline program.

Specifically, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau temporarily waived the requirement that consumers seeking to qualify for the program based on their income must provide at least three consecutive months of income documentation.

The Lifeline program provides monthly discounts on broadband and voice services to qualifying low-income consumers.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our economy,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.  “Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and it is important that they have the connectivity they need to apply for new jobs, take online classes, or get medical care via telehealth.  I’m glad we’re granting this relief today, which will help those who may have only recently become eligible for Lifeline to sign up for the program and stay connected to vital broadband and phone services during the pandemic.”

Public interest groups praised the decision.

“As millions shelter in place for their own health and that of their communities, Benton welcomes the FCC’s move to ease burdens on the newly unemployed,” said Kevin Taglang of the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society.

“In the emergency, the FCC must act quickly to get as many people connected as possible and today’s action is a step in the right direction. The FCC should follow up by ensuring everyone who files for unemployment is automatically enrolled in Lifeline and benefit from a reduction in their communications bill. The Commission should also expand Lifeline to provide a $50/month subsidy for broadband service.”

Digital rights group call for legislation to support phone and internet access for all during coronavirus

A slew of non-profit groups jointly delivered more than 110,000 petition signatures to Congress, According to a Wednesday press release by Free Press.

Access Now, Common Sense Media, Consumer Reports, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Libraries Without Borders, Media Justice, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge also joined in.

The petitions call for upcoming rounds of COVID-19 stimulus legislation to ensure that internet and phone services are available to all during the pandemic.

“The cost of broadband is so high and the broadband-providers’ policies are so discriminatory that even before the crisis began and millions lost their sources of income, more than one-fifth of households nationwide didn’t have home internet,” they said.

“Internet and phone access should be affordable public services — like water and electricity. We demand that you provide the billions of dollars needed to get and keep people connected to broadband and phone services during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis."

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