WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 -The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger of telecommunications carrier, Qwest Communications, and internet service provider, CenturyLink.
Following the completion of the merger, Qwest will become a subsidiary of CenturyLink.
The companies must now wait for approval from the state of Oregon before they can formally merge. Washington, Minnesota and Arizona have already approved the action.
The Commission imposed broadband deployment requirements to the merger which mimic those they applied to the NBCU-Comcast merger. CenturyLink must launch a broadband adoption program targeted toward low-income customers in 37 states. Customers participating in the program will be able to obtain broadband internet service for about $10 per month. Additionally the company will develop digital literacy training programs.
“We are told that this combination will help expand the benefits of broadband to consumers and communities across the country—that the new CenturyLink will be a stronger company with greater resources to invest in its now significantly expanded service territory,” said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in his concurring statement. “On this score, I believe the applicants’ commitments on broadband deployment are a step in the right direction.“
In his statement of support, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “The conditions we’ve imposed should effectively protect against the identified transaction-specific harms, and the company’s commitments to help connect so many more Americans to broadband is an important and substantial public-interest benefit.”
Among the major merger conditions, the Quest network must expand its 4 megabit per second (Mbps) network to 4 million new homes and at least 20,000 anchor institutions. To expand higher speed access, the company will have to double the number of homes that can receive a 12 Mbps connection, and triple the number that can receive a 40 Mbps connection.
In her statement, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn offered some concern about the deal.
“The companies asserted that post-merger CenturyLink will continue to focus on rural customers, yet the company did not provide sufficient information in the proceeding so that we could ensure that result,” said Clyburn in her statement. “While the companies pledge to inform us in their regular reporting the broadband deployment that occurs in rural versus non-rural areas, I would have preferred a specific, verifiable commitment to deploy broadband in unserved, rural areas.”
While Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker approved of the merger, she found fault with the FCC for taking too long in approving the merger, pointing out that the Department of Justice, which works in tandem with the FCC on such mergers, approved the transaction nine months ago. Baker has been an outspoken critic of the length of time the FCC takes to review mergers and the conditions it frequently imposes on them.
The full order can be found here.
Cable Group NCTA Says Deny Exclusive Multitenant Access, But Not Wiring, Agreements
NCTA said the FCC should deny exclusive access to these buildings, but not exclusive wiring agreements.
WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – The internet and television association NCTA is suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission deny all broadband providers exclusive access to multitenant buildings, but to continue allowing exclusive wiring agreements.
On Tuesday, the FCC opened a new round of comments into its examination of competitive broadband options for residents of apartments, multi-tenant and office buildings.
In a Tuesday ex parte notice to the commission, which follows a formal meeting with agency staff on September 2, the NCTA said the record shows that deployment, competition, and consumer choice in multiple tenant environments “are strong,” and that the FCC can “promote even greater deployment and competition by prohibiting not just cable operators, other covered [multiple video programming distributors], and telecommunications carriers, but all broadband providers from entering into MTE exclusive access agreements.
The organization, whose member companies include Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, also said it should continue to allow providers to enter into exclusive wiring agreements with MTE owners. Wiring just means that the provider can lay down its cables, like fiber, to connect residents.
“Exclusive wiring agreements do not deny new entrants access to MTEs. Rather, exclusive wiring agreements are pro-competitive and help ensure that state-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers.”
The NCTA also told the FCC that there would be technical problems with simultaneous sharing of building wires by different providers and vouched for exclusive marketing arrangements, according to the notice.
The FCC’s new round of comments comes after a bill, introduced on July 30 by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, outlined plans to address exclusivity agreements between residential units and service providers, which sees providers lock out other carriers from buildings and leaving residents with only one option for internet.
Reached for comment on the filing, a spokesman for NCTA said they had nothing to add to the filing, which was signed by Mary Beth Murphy, deputy general counsel to the cable organization.
Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says
Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.
WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – A client of a company that has been included in a list of companies the Federal Communications Commission said pose threats to the security of the country’s networks is asking the agency to reconsider including the company.
In a letter to the commission on Tuesday, Diversified Communications Group, which installs and distributes two-way radio communications devices to large companies, said the inclusion of Hytera Communications Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer of radio equipment, on a list of national security threats is “absurd” because the hardware involved is not connected to the internet and “does not transmit any sensitive or proprietary data.
“It seems that Hytera has been lumped in with other Chinese companies on the Covered List simply because they happen to manufacture electronics in the same country,” Diversified’s CEO Ryan Holte said in the letter, adding Hytera’s products have helped Diversified’s business thrive.
“This is a wrong that should be righted. Hytera is not a national security risk. They are an essential business partner to radio companies throughout the U.S.,” the CEO added.
In March, the FCC announced that it had designated Hytera among other Chinese businesses with alleged links to the Communist government. Others included Huawei, ZTE, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.
List among a number of restrictions on Chinese companies
This list of companies was created in accordance with the Secure Networks Act, and the FCC indicated that it would continue to add companies to the list if they are deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of U.S. persons.”
Last month, the Senate commerce committee passed through legislation that would compel the FCC to no longer issue new equipment licenses to China-backed companies.
Last year the U.S. government took steps to ensure that federal agencies could not purchase goods or services from the aforementioned companies, and had previously added them to an economic blacklist.
In July, the FCC voted in favor of putting in place measures that would require U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment by these alleged threat companies.
The Biden administration has been making moves to isolate alleged Chinese-linked threats to the country’s networks. In June, the White House signed an executive order limiting investments in predominantly Chinese companies that it said poses a threat to national security.
FCC Says 5 Million Households Now Enrolled in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
The $3.2 billion program provides broadband and device subsidies to eligible low-income households.
August 30, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that five million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
The $3.2-billion program, which launched in May, provides a broadband subsidy of $50 per month to eligible low-income households and $75 per month for those living on native tribal lands, as well as a one-time reimbursement on a device. Over 1160 providers are participating, the FCC said, who are reimbursed the cost to provide the discounted services.
The agency has been updating the public on the number of participating households for the program. In June, the program was at just over three million and had passed four million last month. The program was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
“Enrolling five million households into the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in a little over three months is no small feat,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of nearly 30,000 individuals and organizations who signed up as volunteer outreach partners.”
Rosenworcel added that conversations with partners and the FCC’s analysis shows the need for “more granular data” to bring these opportunities to more eligible families.
The program’s strong demand was seen as far back as March.
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