FCC Emergency Connectivity Funds, Lumen’s Wi-Fi 7 Device, Dems and Broadcast Television

The FCC announced $53.4 million in additional funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

FCC Emergency Connectivity Funds, Lumen’s Wi-Fi 7 Device, Dems and Broadcast Television
Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-Mass by Gage Skidmore May 2019 used with permission

October 19, 2023 – The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday announced more than $53.4 million in additional funding for applications to the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

The ECF is a $7.1-billion program established in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic aimed at helping students stay connected away from school.

The funding announced this week will help support almost 140,000 students, 175 schools and school districts, four libraries and two consortium across the country, according to a press release.

“In today’s classroom, broadband connections and digital tools are the new pencils and notebooks, making them vital to students’ success. That’s why we’re pleased to announce another round of funding to help close the Homework Gap for students,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in the release.

Lumen to deliver Wi-Fi 7 device

Telecom company Lumen Technologies on Tuesday announced the launch of a Wi-Fi 7 capable device, which will soon be available to their Quantum Fiber customers. The company planned to launch in certain markets later this year and be distributed nationwide in 2024.

Wi-Fi 7 is a service that provides increased speeds, lower latency, higher capacity, improved reliability and security over current Wi-Fi technology, read a press release.

Lumen’s Quantum Fiber will be partnering to develop the device with tech design companies MediaTek and its subsidiary Airoha as well as network solution provicert AxonNetworks.

“Offering Wi-Fi 7 to our Quantum Fiber customers is another major step in our goal to offer the fastest, most reliable, and most secure Wi-Fi service in the industry,” said Maxine Moreau, Lumen president of mass markets.

Democrats want to reclassify linear streaming services to broadcast rules

A coalition of Democrats sent a letter Wednesday to the FCC urging it to reopen discussion about including streaming services in the definition of a multichannel video programming distributor.

Presently, MVPDs include things like cable and satellite television which distribute pre-scheduled video to the viewer. Those platforms are required by law to acquire permission to redistribute content from local television stations, whereas streaming services, classified as virtual MVPDs, do not have the same regulatory requirements.

The coalition backing the letter is asking the FCC to amend the docket and seek new public comment to maintain a record of how the video market landscape has changed to allow for improved regulations.

“The shift from broadcast, cable, and satellite to streaming has profound impact on existing laws, regulations, and agreements that have been foundational in support of public safety and access to local news,” explained the letter.

Signed by members like Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, the letter underscored concern that locally broadcasted content might be undermined by technologies like streaming services.