SHLB Says FCC Order to Auction EBS Spectrum Would be Disastrous for Students, 5G and Rural America June 19, 2019
For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. (June 19, 2019) - Today the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition opposed the Federal Communications Commission’s draft Order regarding the Educational Broadband Service (EBS). The Order would remove EBS’ educational use requirement, and would move directly to auctioning spectrum after a priority licensing window for Tribal entities.
“Eliminating the educational priority for EBS would be disastrous for online learning, 5G deployment, and rural consumers,” said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the SHLB Coalition. “The best way to encourage 5G in rural markets is to award licenses to educational institutions that live and work in their communities and whose mission is to serve the needs of students. Deploying broadband via EBS is not rocket science – it has been successfully done in northern Michigan, rural Virginia, and even at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We cannot understand why the FCC would overturn over 50 years of educational precedent based on exaggerated claims by the commercial carriers that they will deploy 5G in these rural markets. Dr. Raul Katz’s economic study estimates that commercial carriers will only deploy 5G in 24 of the 78 unserved markets, whereas educational institutions would serve almost all of them. The EBS rules need to be modernized, not obliterated. The SHLB Coalition intends to do everything in its power to preserve educational access to this vitally important wireless broadband spectrum.”
The SHLB Coalition recently commissioned a study demonstrating that the economic and social benefits of awarding EBS licenses to schools and Tribal Nations would far outweigh any gain from moving directly to auction. In the hands of these entities, EBS spectrum would reduce the rural homework gap by nearly 30 percent, as opposed to the 1.13 percent reduction that auctions would yield.
The Trump Administration and U.S. Congress have also voiced their support for preserving the educational nature of EBS. Over the past month, the FCC received letters on the matter from the Department of Education, Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), jointly from democratic Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), and Deb Haaland (D-N.M), and a Nebraska delegation including republican Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse as well as Representatives Don Bacon and Adrian Smith.
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.