Christopher Ali on Infrastructure Bill, FCC Approves Telehealth Money, Boost Intros 5G Phone

Author of Farm Fresh Broadband talks considerations for infrastructure funding, FCC approves 72 telehealth apps, Boost Mobile’s 5G device.

Christopher Ali on Infrastructure Bill, FCC Approves Telehealth Money, Boost Intros 5G Phone
Erik Carlson, CEO of Dish Network.

September 30, 2021 – The author of a new book on the failures of American policy on rural broadband said Wednesday he hopes the infrastructure bill’s billions for broadband, if passed, will be utilized with additional oversight to ensure the money is distributed and used effectively.

Christopher Ali, the author of Farm Fresh Broadband, which was released on September 21, said in a one-on-one conversation with the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition he wants the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to be cognizant of the policy errors in the past and ensure that it lays out an accountability framework, which includes reporting on where money is going, to adequately utilize the valuable “once-in-a-lifetime” funds.

The states are expected to receive $42 billion from the NTIA out of a total of $65 billion allocated for broadband infrastructure in the bill, which could see a vote in the House on Thursday.

For the money to be effective, Ali said it should include smaller providers having an “equitable shot at funding, that states have to produce or have to create broadband offices that are well staffed, and that there are rules for accountability. I think if we have those three elements in place, this $42 billion is going to do a tremendous amount of good in this country, so I am really excited about the potential here.”

The Federal Communications Commission has recently been going through a cleansing operation to weed out areas that may already be adequately served as part of effort to maximize the efficiency of the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, whose winners were announced when Ajit Pai was still chairman in December 2020.

Ali also noted that the better broadband maps need to be there. Many of the winners of RDOF money, who defaulted on some areas they won money to cover, said they only realized that their areas were adequately served through the FCC’s newer map data.

FCC approves $41 million in telehealth program

The FCC on Wednesday approved 72 health provider applications for a total of $41 million in round two of its Covid-19 telehealth program, it said in a press release.

The money goes toward reimbursements provided to telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices that are necessarily to enable health care providers to tend to their patients remotely.

The first round of funding disbursed $42 million, with both rounds amounting to $83 million. Once the agency has committed $150 million in funding, it will provide an opportunity for all remaining applicants to supplement their applications.

Boost Mobile introduces new 5G device

Dish Network’s Boost Mobile announced Thursday a new phone optimized for 5G that will be available sometime fall, the company said in a press release.

Boost says the Celero5G is an affordable device that has a 6.52-inch screen, four cameras, 36 hours of battery life, and 4GB of memory.

New and existing customers can pre-order the device online at New and existing customers will get 12 full months of free unlimited talk, text and data on the new device for $279 (through 10/31/21).

“Subscribers have told us loud and clear: they want speed, cool features, and a fair price. The Celero5G is built to make 5G affordable,” said Stephen Stokols, head of Boost Mobile, in a press release.

Boost Mobile has been aggressively pushing its mobile wireless efforts, as it tests its 5G network in Las Vegas and Denver. Earlier this month, it announced that it is buying pre-paid carrier Gen Mobile.

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