AT&T spent more than $2 billion in recent Federal Communications Commission auctions, boosting its spectrum holdings in the 39 GHz band by more than 100% to reach 786 MHz. The carrier will use its mmWave spectrum, approximately 1,040 MHz, to build out its mobile 5G service initially, potentially followed by fixed wireless.
The Federal Communications Commission has recently passed rules demanding that carriers adopt STIR/SHAKEN, the new protocol for combating robocalls, by June 30, 2021. Illegal robocalls are a $3 billion annual drain on the national economy because of the nuisances and wasted time they cause, the agency says.
Congress has designated $200 million to enhance telehealth services under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has proposed letting medical facilities use the funds for improved broadband service as well as home devices for patients.
Rural broadband providers now have until April 15 to apply for loans and grants from the US Department of Agriculture. The second phase of the USDA's ReConnect initiative will distribute a total of $550 million, and the agency did not explain the extension.
The coronavirus crisis could shift broadband "from the nice-to-have category into the must-have category among policymakers and others," writes Mike Dano. Collaboration services from Cisco and Microsoft have also taken central stage during the pandemic.
Google Cloud is offering researchers free access to its COVID-19 Public Datasets program, which hosts a repository of public data sets -- including the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering dashboard, global health data from the World Bank and OpenStreetMap data -- to help accelerate development of tools to slow the pandemic's spread. Researchers will also be able to use BigQuery ML to train machine learning models on COVID-19 data sets.
AT&T says it is stationing liaisons with federal and state emergency operations centers as the coronavirus pandemic grows. The company says it is also deploying more portable cell sites around the country, and emergency departments are using FirstNet apps as they deal with the pandemic.
Claude Aiken, CEO and president of WISPA, said that members are seeing a 35% increase in traffic during peak hours and 90% have customers asking for increased broadband speeds. The Federal Communications Commission has given 33 WISPs 60 days of special temporary authority to use 5.9 GHz spectrum, which Aiken says will help boost connectivity.
The Federal Communications Commission is making sure that low-income customers can continue to get discounts on broadband through the Lifeline program, waiving a number of rules regarding eligibility. De-enrollment procedures, as well as requirements for reverification and recertification, will resume May 29.
The Federal Communications Commission is lending 45 MHz of 5.9 GHz spectrum to 33 companies that provide internet service through fixed wireless connections. Rural communities are the targets of this spectrum, which the providers will have access to over 60 days.
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