June 14, 2018
In May, we wrote about a major rulemaking the FCC is currently considering regarding Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum. The FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that could dramatically impact the educational use of this spectrum, 5G deployment and rural and tribal broadband. Voqal welcomes the Commission’s decision to modernize use of the 2.5 GHz band, part of which is known as EBS, though we have some concerns about the direction the Commission seems to be heading and we need your help!
Modernization of this band has the potential to provide even greater benefits to educators and the public. This rulemaking should focus on addressing three key public policy objectives:
- Enhance and expand educational benefits to more students, schools and families.
- Accelerate the deployment of potentially revolutionary fifth generation (5G) wireless networks to more Americans.
- Accelerate the deployment of cost-effective broadband in rural areas, many of which have limited or no service today.
Enhance and expand educational benefits to more students, schools and families
The best way to achieve this goal is by modernizing rather than eliminating the educational use requirements, and preserving educational eligibility requirements, which have been in place for decades. Maintaining current eligibility requirements will help ensure this unique public asset can continue to benefit education. In addition, modernized educational use standards can help address one of the most difficult challenges students, teachers and schools face today: the homework gap. Despite rhetoric from the Commission, a number of EBS licensees are laser-focused on addressing this need, and we look forward to sharing examples and hearing stories of how this spectrum is being used successfully.
Accelerate the deployment of potentially revolutionary fifth generation (5G) wireless networks to more Americans
The United States is currently racing other nations to deliver 5G to as many consumers as quickly as is possible. These enhanced networks hold great promise in delivering much faster speeds and lower latency, which will offer better service and more competition to consumers, while also creating new economic opportunities for Americans. The Commission has an opportunity to accelerate 5G deployment by licensing unused 2.5 GHz spectrum, particularly in urban and suburban areas. We support the Commission’s consideration of rationalizing and expanding existing licenses. We believe this is the fastest way to put this spectrum to use for 5G and avoids the complexities and delays associated with auctions of encumbered spectrum.
Accelerate the deployment of cost-effective broadband in rural areas, many of which have limited or no service today
Rural broadband deployment is a significant challenge that the market has not solved. The FCC shows that 19 million Americans in rural areas have no access to broadband. One way to combat this digital divide is through the deployment of fixed wireless systems, which provide a cost-effective way of delivering high-speed broadband in rural areas. The Commission should allow educational entities to apply for and obtain new licenses in rural areas. This will ensure that EBS spectrum can deliver benefits to schools and address the homework gap while also creating opportunities for schools to partner with wireless internet service providers wishing to deliver service to the entire community.
What You Can Do
The FCC is currently accepting comments from the public on this proposed rulemaking, but you need to move quickly, as the comment period closes July 9, 2018. Not sure how to comment? Watch this quick video and then visit saveebs.org to tell the FCC to preserve this important public resource!