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Lumen Responds to Allegations it Underbuilds While Collecting Public Funds

The Communications Workers of America is accusing Lumen of underinvesting in broadband while taking public money.

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CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts

July 20, 2021—A labor union association is accusing Lumen Technologies of underinvesting in broadband infrastructure and discriminating against lower-income households while collecting public money, but the company is disputing the premise of the claims.

The Communications Workers of America’s allegations are compiled in a report released last month in cooperation with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance that analyzes multiple sources, including the Federal Communications Commission’s June 2020 form 477 data in over 30 states where Lumen operates its network.

Among the findings of the report is the allegation that 42 percent of households with access to Lumen’s fiber are in census blocks with median incomes of above $75,000, while only seven percent are in blocks with median incomes of below $35,000.

In counties with higher populations of Native Americans – more than 25 percent of households – only about 5.2 percent have access to fiber-to-the-home service and 50 percent have DSL access, the report said.

The CWA also claims that 39 percent of Lumen’s footprint does not meet the FCC’s definition of broadband of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload.

All the while, Lumen has been receiving $506 million annually from 2015 to 2021 from the FCC’s Connect America Fund to get broadband to underserved areas, a fact that makes the allegations more egregious, the report said.

The company also received $262 million over ten years in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction to build fiber-to-the-home in underserved areas.

What’s more, since 2017, the company has cut more than 4,500 CWA-represented jobs critical to broadband deployment, according to the report.

“Lumen Technologies is a clear example of what happens when telecom companies aren’t held accountable to their workers and customers,” said CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts.

Lumen disputes

But Lumen disputes these claims.

“We’ve made significant investments in our network to bring broadband access to every corner of our service territory where it is economically feasible,” Linda Johnson, senior manager of corporate communications at Lumen, said in a statement to Broadband Breakfast.

“Sparsely populated areas are difficult for any communications provider to serve due to the costs of building and maintaining the network infrastructure,” Johnson said.

Lumen says it is working with policymakers to develop public-private partnerships that encourage broadband investment and high-speed internet to more homes and businesses.

In the report, the CWA calls on Lumen to double the number of households passed by fiber by investing in more fiber deployment within two years; upgrade networks in rural and tribal communities across its footprint with federal dollars; and stop outsourcing publicly funded broadband jobs to non-union contractors.

This is a similar call the union representative made in a recent campaign, called Build Broadband Better, in which it is asking the federal government to include requirements attached to federal funds that the recipients not hire subcontractors.

The CWA also wants the expansion of internet service to schools and other places in low-income areas as a form of investment from Lumen.

Within a six-month timeframe, the CWA expects Lumen to invest in building its fiber networks, given that part of the company is showing an increasing number of subscribers.

“We expect Lumen to work with union members to meet the challenges of building broadband in a constructive dialogue,” said CWA’s research economist Zane Farr.

Other data points the CWA said it used for the report includes CWA records, a study of Lumen’s quarterly earnings reports, the FCC’s internet access services status report, a Pew Research Center report on mobile technology and home broadband in 2021, a Columbia Telecommunications Corporation’s white paper called “Mobile Broadband Service Is Not an Adequate Substitute for Wireline,” a Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis report called “The digital divide in Indian Country,” and the U.S Census Bureau report called “Differences in income growth across U.S Counties.”

The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporter Mike Ogunji is from Columbus, Ohio, and studied public relations and information technology at the University of Cincinnati. He has been involved in the Model United Nations and We The People. Mike enjoys books, basketball, broadband and exploring the backwoods.

Infrastructure

Congress Must Support Multiple Broadband Technologies, Wireless Association Says

Debate has pitted certain tech over others, but the WIA says all broadband tech must be considered.

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WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein

July 20, 2021—A labor union association is accusing Lumen Technologies of underinvesting in broadband infrastructure and discriminating against lower-income households while collecting public money, but the company is disputing the premise of the claims.

The Communications Workers of America’s allegations are compiled in a report released last month in cooperation with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance that analyzes multiple sources, including the Federal Communications Commission’s June 2020 form 477 data in over 30 states where Lumen operates its network.

Among the findings of the report is the allegation that 42 percent of households with access to Lumen’s fiber are in census blocks with median incomes of above $75,000, while only seven percent are in blocks with median incomes of below $35,000.

In counties with higher populations of Native Americans – more than 25 percent of households – only about 5.2 percent have access to fiber-to-the-home service and 50 percent have DSL access, the report said.

The CWA also claims that 39 percent of Lumen’s footprint does not meet the FCC’s definition of broadband of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload.

All the while, Lumen has been receiving $506 million annually from 2015 to 2021 from the FCC’s Connect America Fund to get broadband to underserved areas, a fact that makes the allegations more egregious, the report said.

The company also received $262 million over ten years in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction to build fiber-to-the-home in underserved areas.

What’s more, since 2017, the company has cut more than 4,500 CWA-represented jobs critical to broadband deployment, according to the report.

“Lumen Technologies is a clear example of what happens when telecom companies aren’t held accountable to their workers and customers,” said CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts.

Lumen disputes

But Lumen disputes these claims.

“We’ve made significant investments in our network to bring broadband access to every corner of our service territory where it is economically feasible,” Linda Johnson, senior manager of corporate communications at Lumen, said in a statement to Broadband Breakfast.

“Sparsely populated areas are difficult for any communications provider to serve due to the costs of building and maintaining the network infrastructure,” Johnson said.

Lumen says it is working with policymakers to develop public-private partnerships that encourage broadband investment and high-speed internet to more homes and businesses.

In the report, the CWA calls on Lumen to double the number of households passed by fiber by investing in more fiber deployment within two years; upgrade networks in rural and tribal communities across its footprint with federal dollars; and stop outsourcing publicly funded broadband jobs to non-union contractors.

This is a similar call the union representative made in a recent campaign, called Build Broadband Better, in which it is asking the federal government to include requirements attached to federal funds that the recipients not hire subcontractors.

The CWA also wants the expansion of internet service to schools and other places in low-income areas as a form of investment from Lumen.

Within a six-month timeframe, the CWA expects Lumen to invest in building its fiber networks, given that part of the company is showing an increasing number of subscribers.

“We expect Lumen to work with union members to meet the challenges of building broadband in a constructive dialogue,” said CWA’s research economist Zane Farr.

Other data points the CWA said it used for the report includes CWA records, a study of Lumen’s quarterly earnings reports, the FCC’s internet access services status report, a Pew Research Center report on mobile technology and home broadband in 2021, a Columbia Telecommunications Corporation’s white paper called “Mobile Broadband Service Is Not an Adequate Substitute for Wireline,” a Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis report called “The digital divide in Indian Country,” and the U.S Census Bureau report called “Differences in income growth across U.S Counties.”

The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.

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Infrastructure

Inflationary Pressures Increasing Difficulty of Closing Digital Divide, Officials Say

Government officials say inflationary pressures may make connecting rural America harder than previously anticipated.

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Screenshot taken from The Broadband Bunch podcast event

July 20, 2021—A labor union association is accusing Lumen Technologies of underinvesting in broadband infrastructure and discriminating against lower-income households while collecting public money, but the company is disputing the premise of the claims.

The Communications Workers of America’s allegations are compiled in a report released last month in cooperation with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance that analyzes multiple sources, including the Federal Communications Commission’s June 2020 form 477 data in over 30 states where Lumen operates its network.

Among the findings of the report is the allegation that 42 percent of households with access to Lumen’s fiber are in census blocks with median incomes of above $75,000, while only seven percent are in blocks with median incomes of below $35,000.

In counties with higher populations of Native Americans – more than 25 percent of households – only about 5.2 percent have access to fiber-to-the-home service and 50 percent have DSL access, the report said.

The CWA also claims that 39 percent of Lumen’s footprint does not meet the FCC’s definition of broadband of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload.

All the while, Lumen has been receiving $506 million annually from 2015 to 2021 from the FCC’s Connect America Fund to get broadband to underserved areas, a fact that makes the allegations more egregious, the report said.

The company also received $262 million over ten years in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction to build fiber-to-the-home in underserved areas.

What’s more, since 2017, the company has cut more than 4,500 CWA-represented jobs critical to broadband deployment, according to the report.

“Lumen Technologies is a clear example of what happens when telecom companies aren’t held accountable to their workers and customers,” said CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts.

Lumen disputes

But Lumen disputes these claims.

“We’ve made significant investments in our network to bring broadband access to every corner of our service territory where it is economically feasible,” Linda Johnson, senior manager of corporate communications at Lumen, said in a statement to Broadband Breakfast.

“Sparsely populated areas are difficult for any communications provider to serve due to the costs of building and maintaining the network infrastructure,” Johnson said.

Lumen says it is working with policymakers to develop public-private partnerships that encourage broadband investment and high-speed internet to more homes and businesses.

In the report, the CWA calls on Lumen to double the number of households passed by fiber by investing in more fiber deployment within two years; upgrade networks in rural and tribal communities across its footprint with federal dollars; and stop outsourcing publicly funded broadband jobs to non-union contractors.

This is a similar call the union representative made in a recent campaign, called Build Broadband Better, in which it is asking the federal government to include requirements attached to federal funds that the recipients not hire subcontractors.

The CWA also wants the expansion of internet service to schools and other places in low-income areas as a form of investment from Lumen.

Within a six-month timeframe, the CWA expects Lumen to invest in building its fiber networks, given that part of the company is showing an increasing number of subscribers.

“We expect Lumen to work with union members to meet the challenges of building broadband in a constructive dialogue,” said CWA’s research economist Zane Farr.

Other data points the CWA said it used for the report includes CWA records, a study of Lumen’s quarterly earnings reports, the FCC’s internet access services status report, a Pew Research Center report on mobile technology and home broadband in 2021, a Columbia Telecommunications Corporation’s white paper called “Mobile Broadband Service Is Not an Adequate Substitute for Wireline,” a Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis report called “The digital divide in Indian Country,” and the U.S Census Bureau report called “Differences in income growth across U.S Counties.”

The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.

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Spectrum

Companies Clash Over Spectrum Sharing in 12 GHz Spectrum Band

Satellite service provider Dish, which is open to 12 GHz for mobile, recently signed a network sharing deal with AT&T.

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on

Screenshot from Broadband Breakfast Live Online episode on July 14.

July 20, 2021—A labor union association is accusing Lumen Technologies of underinvesting in broadband infrastructure and discriminating against lower-income households while collecting public money, but the company is disputing the premise of the claims.

The Communications Workers of America’s allegations are compiled in a report released last month in cooperation with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance that analyzes multiple sources, including the Federal Communications Commission’s June 2020 form 477 data in over 30 states where Lumen operates its network.

Among the findings of the report is the allegation that 42 percent of households with access to Lumen’s fiber are in census blocks with median incomes of above $75,000, while only seven percent are in blocks with median incomes of below $35,000.

In counties with higher populations of Native Americans – more than 25 percent of households – only about 5.2 percent have access to fiber-to-the-home service and 50 percent have DSL access, the report said.

The CWA also claims that 39 percent of Lumen’s footprint does not meet the FCC’s definition of broadband of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload.

All the while, Lumen has been receiving $506 million annually from 2015 to 2021 from the FCC’s Connect America Fund to get broadband to underserved areas, a fact that makes the allegations more egregious, the report said.

The company also received $262 million over ten years in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction to build fiber-to-the-home in underserved areas.

What’s more, since 2017, the company has cut more than 4,500 CWA-represented jobs critical to broadband deployment, according to the report.

“Lumen Technologies is a clear example of what happens when telecom companies aren’t held accountable to their workers and customers,” said CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts.

Lumen disputes

But Lumen disputes these claims.

“We’ve made significant investments in our network to bring broadband access to every corner of our service territory where it is economically feasible,” Linda Johnson, senior manager of corporate communications at Lumen, said in a statement to Broadband Breakfast.

“Sparsely populated areas are difficult for any communications provider to serve due to the costs of building and maintaining the network infrastructure,” Johnson said.

Lumen says it is working with policymakers to develop public-private partnerships that encourage broadband investment and high-speed internet to more homes and businesses.

In the report, the CWA calls on Lumen to double the number of households passed by fiber by investing in more fiber deployment within two years; upgrade networks in rural and tribal communities across its footprint with federal dollars; and stop outsourcing publicly funded broadband jobs to non-union contractors.

This is a similar call the union representative made in a recent campaign, called Build Broadband Better, in which it is asking the federal government to include requirements attached to federal funds that the recipients not hire subcontractors.

The CWA also wants the expansion of internet service to schools and other places in low-income areas as a form of investment from Lumen.

Within a six-month timeframe, the CWA expects Lumen to invest in building its fiber networks, given that part of the company is showing an increasing number of subscribers.

“We expect Lumen to work with union members to meet the challenges of building broadband in a constructive dialogue,” said CWA’s research economist Zane Farr.

Other data points the CWA said it used for the report includes CWA records, a study of Lumen’s quarterly earnings reports, the FCC’s internet access services status report, a Pew Research Center report on mobile technology and home broadband in 2021, a Columbia Telecommunications Corporation’s white paper called “Mobile Broadband Service Is Not an Adequate Substitute for Wireline,” a Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis report called “The digital divide in Indian Country,” and the U.S Census Bureau report called “Differences in income growth across U.S Counties.”

The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.

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