AT&T To Spin Out WarnerMedia, California’s $7B For Broadband, FCC Licences For Tribes, TPRC Virtual For Now

AT&T spins out WarnerMedia, California putting $7B in broadband, tribal lands get licences, and TPRC events virtual for now.

AT&T To Spin Out WarnerMedia, California’s $7B For Broadband, FCC Licences For Tribes, TPRC Virtual For Now
Photo of Sen. Josh Hawley taken 2022 by Gage Skidmore

May 17, 2021— AT&T announced its media division WarnerMedia is reaching a deal to consolidate into Discovery Inc., forming a new third company.

WarnerMedia, which owns industry giants such as HBO and CNN, would be brought under the same house as HGTV and TLC in the deal. According to Financial Times, such a company would be valued at $150 billion.

The move to consolidate was viewed by some as an admission that cord-cutters had hurt the industry—fleeing cable TV in favor of streaming platforms such as Hulu and Netflix; AT&T had only purchased WarnerMedia in 2018.

California budget includes $7 billion for broadband

As part of his revision of California’s 2021-2022 budget, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom allotted $7 billion to improve broadband infrastructure and enhance access, particularly in un(der)served and economically-disadvantaged communities.

The move was well received by advocates for broadband equity, such as the California Emerging Technology Fund and the Digital Equity Coalition, who in a joint statement lauded the move as “bold.”

On Friday, Newsom took to Twitter, stating that his administration was fighting for “broadband for all,” and that they were working toward making broadband “more accessible than ever before.”

Data has shown that California has made strides to connect the state, but Hispanic and Latino communities and communities that are disproportionately impacted by poverty remain less connected than their more affluent counterparts. Fortunately, research done by the CETF and the University of Southern California showed that most elderly and disabled Californians who attempted to access telehealth services during the pandemic had the infrastructure and broadband subscriptions necessary to do so.

Carriers granted additional licences to connect tribal lands

The FCC announced on Thursday that it had dispensed 40 licences in the 2.5 GHz band to better serve rural and tribal communities, which raises the total exclusive-use licences operating in the 2.5 GHz band on tribal lands to 259.

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stated, “Wireless spectrum in the hands of the unserved and underserved is a powerful tool. This is especially true for Tribes, which should have the opportunity to offer their communities the broadband access that is so critical for participation in the digital age.”

Rosenworcel has made it clear over the past several months that her goal of closing the digital divide and achieving universal broadband coverage are strictly aligned with President Joe Biden’s goal of 100 percent connectivity by 2030.

TPRC conference temporarily going virtual

While many businesses and institutions are rushing to resume in-person events as the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of slowing, the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference announced in the May newsletter that their “TPRC49” event would be online-only.

Nicol Turner Lee, board chair member and director of The Center for Technology Innovation, stated that the decision to hold the conference digitally was made due to uncertainties in “opening” status, not just in the U.S., but around the world.

Even as the U.S. has been able to vaccinate more than a third of its population, India is experiencing another wave that has pushed the country to its limit.

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