May 9, 2019
Yesterday, Voqal joined more than 800 groups in submitting a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that voices strong support for keeping Educational Broadband Service (EBS) educational and licensing the unassigned EBS spectrum to educational institutions and Tribal Nations. The signatories include schools, nonprofits and other organizations dedicated to addressing the vast digital divide that many Americans face.
The letter emphasizes EBS as a critical tool for addressing the digital divide and the homework gap. It also explains that commercial carriers have proven they do not have the incentives to address these issues on their own. Despite having over 625 MHz of prime spectrum for wireless broadband deployment, there are still roughly 20 million Americans without broadband access. Putting more spectrum in commercial hands alone will not solve this problem.
In a press statement issued by a coalition of organizations who signed the letter, Voqal Director of Telecommunications Strategy Mark Colwell said:
“As strong advocates for a more socially equitable and connected society, Voqal believes the EBS rulemaking presents a unique opportunity for the FCC to close the homework gap and digital divide while also accelerating the deployment of 5G to more Americans. Today’s sign-on letter makes clear that keeping EBS educational and licensing the remainder of the band to educators is the best way to deliver on these goals.
“The letter also demonstrates growing support for licensing windows. In recent weeks, over 60 rural operators have voiced support for priority filing windows at the Commission. Opening educational filing windows is the fastest way the FCC can finish licensing this band and allow for public-private partnerships and self-deployments that have been so successful at closing the digital divide. America needs more tools to ensure connectivity for all. Simply auctioning every spectrum band has not and will not close the digital divide on its own. EBS is a proven model that, if fully licensed, will quickly connect more Americans.”
This week’s sign-on letter demonstrates growing support for keeping EBS educational and for the FCC to finish licensing the band to educators. In addition to the organizations supporting this letter, a group of 57 operators recently voiced support to the FCC for these very same principles.
The FCC is expected to propose final rules for EBS sometime this summer. To learn more, read the official press announcement here.