SHLB Encourages the FCC to Address the Digital Divide with EBS Spectrum August 09, 2018
For Immediate Release
Washington, DC (August 9, 2018) - The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition filed comments yesterday in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s “Transforming the 2.5 GHz Band” inquiry. SHLB’s filing asks the FCC to designate the Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum as a public interest resource and adopt policies that directly address the Digital Divide and the Homework Gap.
“The FCC’s most recent Broadband Deployment Report reveals that more than 15 million Americans still lack access to sufficient mobile broadband,” said John Windhausen Jr., Executive Director of the SHLB Coalition. “The disparity between these broadband ‘haves’ and ‘havenots’ will only grow larger with the deployment of 5G if we don’t act now to close the gap. Chairman Pai has said that closing the Digital Divide for rural Americans is his top priority, and this EBS proceeding is a perfect opportunity to make progress toward this goal.”
In its comments, the SHLB Coalition offers the FCC several specific policy guidelines that could transform EBS into a tool for closing the Digital Divide:
- Adopt an alternative, non-auction approach for issuing new EBS licenses so that rural schools and anchor institutions are not disadvantaged.
- Replace the outdated educational use requirements with a requirement that new EBS licensees offer an affordable mobile broadband service, similar to the $10/month service offered by Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen.
- Make EBS licenses available to anchor institutions and nonprofit providers who have the best incentive and experience to serve the public interest.
- Forbid eligible entities from transferring or assigning their licenses to commercial providers.
- Foster public-private partnerships by allowing licensees to enter leases with commercial providers.
- Encourage eligible applicants to form consortia in order to submit a single application for a license.
To learn more about the SHLB Coalition’s spectrum and Wi-Fi advocacy work, visit www.shlb.org/policy/additional.
The SHLB Coalition is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-quality broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. The SHLB Coalition is based in Washington, DC and has a diverse membership of commercial and non-commercial organizations from across the United States. To learn more, visit www.shlb.org.