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.
Federal Communications Commission Implements Rules for Affordable Connectivity Program
The agency implemented new rules on the Affordable Connectivity Program, which makes a new subsidy permanent.
WASHINGTON, January 24, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules Friday for its Affordable Connectivity Program that changes and, in some cases narrows, the eligibility requirements for the subsidy to allow for more households to be connected.
An extension of the former Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which offered discounts to broadband service providers to subsidize connectivity and devices, the new program will make it easier for providers to get in the program by automatically making eligible providers in good standing.
Additionally, the FCC maintains that the monthly discount on broadband service is limited to one internet discount per household rather than allowing the benefit for separate members of a household. “Adopting a one-per-household limitation best ensures that Program funding is available to the largest possible number of eligible households,” the agency said in its report.
To accommodate the volume of eligible households enrolling in the ACP, the FCC allowed providers until March 22 – 60 days after its Friday order is published in the Federal Register– to make necessary changes to ensure that the ACP can be applied to providers’ currently sold plans.
“So much of our day to day—work, education, healthcare and more—has migrated online. As a result, it’s more apparent than ever before that broadband is no longer nice-to-have, it’s need-to-have, for everyone, everywhere,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “But there are far too many households across the country that are wrestling with how to pay for gas and groceries and also keep up with the broadband bill. This program, like its predecessor, can make a meaningful difference.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act transformed the EBB to the longer-term Affordable Connectivity Program by allocating an additional $14.2 billion to it.
FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Shares Proposal to Promote Broadband Competition In Apartment Buildings
If adopted, the FCC’s regulations would increase broadband options for tenants.
WASHINGTON, January 21, 2022––Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel shared a draft regulation that aims to would promote competition and greater broadband choice for tenants in apartment buildings.
If adopted, the regulations would prevent practices that keep tenants from choosing their own broadband provider.
“With more than one-third of the U.S. population living in apartments, mobile home parks, condominiums, and public housing, it’s time to crack down on practices that lock out broadband competition and consumer choice,” said Rosenworcel.
The proposal would prohibit broadband providers from entering into revenue-sharing agreements with apartment building owners. If approved by her fellow commissioners and hence adopted as official agency rules, the regulation would also require providers to disclose any existing marketing arrangements they have with building owners to tenants.
“Consumers deserve access to a choice of providers in their buildings. I look forward to having my colleagues join me in lifting the obstacles to competitive choice for broadband for the millions of tenants across the nation,” Rosenworcel said.
Her proposal builds on a September 2021 notice that invited a new round of comments during an examination of broadband access In apartment and office buildings. The FCC said the proceedings revealed “a pattern of new practices that inhibit competition, contrary to the Commission’s goals, and limit opportunities for competitive providers to offer service for apartment, condo and office building unit tenants.”
More than one third of the U.S. population lives in condominiums or apartment buildings.
Exclusive agreements between broadband providers and buildings owners limit options for tenants, who are precluded from access to new carriers. “Across the country throughout the pandemic, the need for more and better broadband access has never been clearer,” Rosenworcel added.
FCC Announces Largest Approval Yet for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund: $1 Billion
The agency said Thursday it has approved $1 billion to 69 providers in 32 states.
WASHINGTON, December 16, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission announced its largest approval yet from the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, greenlighting on Thursday $1 billion from a reverse auction process that ended with award announcements in December but that the new-look agency has been scrutinizing in recent months.
The agency said in a press release that this fifth round of approvals includes 69 providers who are expected to serve 518,000 locations in 32 states over 10 years. Its previous round approved $700 million worth of applications to cover 26 states. Previous rounds approved $554 million for broadband in 19 states, $311 million in 36 states, and $163 million in 21 states.
The agency still has some way to approve the entirety of the fund, as it’s asked providers that were previously awarded RDOF money in December to revisit their applications to see if the areas they have bid for are not already served. So far, a growing list have defaulted on their respective areas, some saying it was newer FCC maps that showed them what they didn’t previously know. The agency said Thursday that about 5,000 census blocks have been cleared as a result of that process.
The FCC also said Thursday it saved $350 million from winning bidders that have either failed to get state certification or didn’t follow through on their applications. In one winning bidder’s case, the FCC said Thursday Hotwire violated the application rules by changing its ownership structure.
“This latest round of funding will open up even more opportunities to connect hundreds of thousands of Americans to high-speed, reliable broadband service,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Today’s actions reflect the hard work we’ve put in over the past year to ensure that applicants meet their obligations and follow our rules. With thoughtful oversight, this program can direct funding to areas that need broadband and to providers who are qualified to do the job.”
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