Two NTCA Members Win USDA ReConnect Funding
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week that two NTCA members – Star Telephone Membership Corporation (Clinton, N.C.), and Oklahoma Western Telephone Company (Medicine Park, Okla.) – have been awarded rural broadband funding through the ReConnect pilot program.
Star Telephone was awarded a $27.5 million grant that will go toward deploying a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network capable of supporting speeds of at least 100 Mbps. Service will be available to 8,749 households, 19 businesses and 10 educational facilities, as well as three critical community facilities.
Oklahoma Western Telephone Company’s award is a $4.2 million loan that will be used to build a FTTH network also capable of supporting speeds of at least 100 Mbps. The funded service areas include 312 households and 20 farms.
The ReConnect program was established by Congress in March 2018 with a budget of $600 million, to be awarded in the form of grants, loans and grant/loan combinations. Deployments target unserved or underserved rural areas.
FCC Commissioner Starks Proposes 10-Year Look at High Cost USF Program
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks has recommended that the commission conduct a 10-year look-back at the high-cost Universal Service Fund (USF) program. He told attendees at a broadband industry conference that the goal of the data-driven review would be to determine where the program has succeeded and what the program may have missed.
FCC Approves Merger of Sprint, T-Mobile with Conditions
The FCC approved the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile with conditions. The commission said that the transaction will help close the digital divide and advance United States leadership in 5G. Conditions include requiring the merged carrier to deploy 5G service to 90% of all Americans within six years, including 90% of rural Americans.
Small Business Administration Report finds Rural Areas Lag Urban in High-Speed Internet
A new report from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, “Accessing the Internet in Rural America,” analyzes recent survey data on subscriptions to the internet through three popular types of technology, finding areas with lower population density have lower subscription rates for traditional and mobile broadband, but higher subscription rates for satellite. The full report is available online.
- The FCC released a list of companies that won licenses in Auction 101 of spectrum in the 28 GHz band and whose long-form applications have been found, upon review, to be acceptable for filing. Anyone opposing any of these applications has until November 12 to file a petition to deny the license.
- Two rural carriers – Craigville Telephone Co. (Craigville, Ind.) and Consolidated Telephone Company (Brainerd, Minn.) – are suing T-Mobile and its intermediate carriers, including Inteliquent, over calls not completed to their customers. The class action lawsuit charges that false ring tones were inserted to give callers the impression that the called party was simply not answering.
- The date for the November FCC open commission meeting has been changed from November 19 to November 22.
- The FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau deactivated its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) for California public safety power shutoffs.
- The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau launched a webpage that provides information about the Rural Tribal Priority Window to apply for unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum.
- Thirty-five companies have qualified to bid in Auction 103, which will include spectrum in the 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands.