FCC Swings and Misses With EBS Decision July 10, 2019
For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2019) - Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to eliminate the educational requirements for the Educational Broadband Service (EBS) in its “Transforming the 2.5GHz Band” Report and Order. Though the Order includes a priority filing window for Tribal Nations, schools and other nonprofits will have no opportunity to obtain these wireless broadband licenses before they go to auction.
The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition previously published an economic study estimating that awarding licenses to schools would connect 10 times more students than auctions, which would have advanced the FCC’s stated top priority of closing the digital divide. Instead, about 20,000 students will not graduate from high school as a result of today’s decision.
John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the SHLB Coalition, made the following statement:
“The FCC’s decision to shut schools out of future EBS band is illogical, harmful and may be illegal as well. Today’s decision to commercialize EBS makes it clear that the FCC does not fully understand the evidence submitted in the docket. The FCC claims that the EBS spectrum is widely underutilized today, and that most licenses are leased to the commercial providers, so why would the FCC award even more licenses to these same companies? The FCC majority has fallen for the “ear candy” promises of the large commercial carriers that the spectrum will be used to promote 5G, even though these same commercial carriers already have over 600 MHz of spectrum that they are not using. The SHLB Coalition’s recent study found that commercial entities who win the licenses by auction would only deploy service in 24 of 78 unserved counties across the country. On the other hand, schools – in partnership with the private sector – would be far more likely to deploy wireless broadband service because they care about their communities and because the equipment is readily available. The build-out requirements the Order establishes for carriers are virtually meaningless, as companies are given eight years to deploy service. In eight years, it will be too late for today’s students. We hope that Congress and the courts will heed the advice of the U.S. Department of Education, CoSN, SETDA, ALA and other education organizations and overturn this ill-advised decision.
The SHLB Coalition is a nonprofit, 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, D.C. and has a diverse membership of commercial and non-commercial organizations from across the United States. To learn more, visit www.shlb.org.