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In Lead-up to July’s FCC Meeting, Agency Laid Groundwork for Supportive Vote on E-Rate Changes



WASHINGTON, July 15, 2014 – In a phone conference on July 1, in the lead-up to last week’s open meeting of the Federal Communications Commission, agency officials discussed Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to modify the E-rate program. The agency seeks to spend more funds on Wi-Fi gap connectivity within schools around the country and maximize the impact of existing funds by providing many schools with greater high speed connectivity.

The conference was joined by FCC Managing Director Jon Wilkins, former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, Marijke Visser of the American Library Association, and Evan Marwell, CEO and founder of Education Superhighway, the provider of much of the FCC’s data on school connectivity.

Wheeler wants to reallocate $2 billion in current E-rate funds, including spending on non-broadband services like pagers, email and voice service, toward high speed Wi-Fi. The report said that by 2019, this is expected to help 44 million additional students around the country, whether that be in urban, suburban or rural areas.

Some education advocacy groups, however, have already criticized Wheeler’s proposal, Marwell said. Groups like the National Education Association claim that simply reallocating money isn’t a sustainable model without injecting additional funds.

Last year, only 4 to 11 percent of over 100,000 schools participating in the E-rate program received funding for internal connections. Libraries looked even worse, with only one percent of 17, 000 eligible libraries nationwide receiving any Wi-Fi support at all.

Given this lackluster support, Wilkins said he is confident that the majority of educators and local legislators around the country will see a tremendous need for Wheeler’s modernized E-rate program.

“We have partnerships with over 30 departments of education around the country,” Marwell said, “and the feedback we get from them…and when we talk to superintendents and CTOs of school districts around the country… is this is a major step forward in helping them solve their broadband problems.”

Access to high speed Internet isn’t just a higher tier luxury anymore, Wise said. It’s an essential everyday need, especially now that “learning isn’t any longer confined to the seven or eight hour school day.” It’s a 24/7 process instead, he said.

“The early E-rate dealt with teachers and computers and hundreds of students with textbooks. Today, those hundreds of students are replacing their textbooks with tablets, and as the issue has always been critically important about getting broadband connectivity [to] the last mile, now, equally important is [getting] 50 feet inside that school.” In other words, the goal is for every student with an Internet-based mobile device to have “access to the world.”

Visser went even further. She said all schools and libraries need “affordable, scalable broadband that supports up to a Gigabit, and actually, even beyond in order to fully participate in the 21st century education for students.” This may necessitate investments of up to $150 per student, Wilkins said, to ensure sufficient coverage for schools.

Libraries in particular need the investment because they support employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, Visser said. While virtually all libraries offer free, public internet access, service needs to be more “robust,” she added.

In February, Wheeler said that “18 years ago, the idea of a student-accessible computer in the school building was a revolutionary concept. Thanks to E-Rate that rarity became commonplace and computers moved into classrooms. Now with the next generation of E-Rate, we are harnessing innovation to put that power directly in front of the student.”


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.



Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA

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.

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Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says

Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.



Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

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.

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Digital Inclusion

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.



Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

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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