“The North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation, Inc. (NACEPF) and Mobile Beacon are gravely concerned about the long-term consequences of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s decision today to dismantle the last 50+ years of public policy that designated a modest portion of licensed spectrum to educational entities to serve their communities. This Order not only abandons that policy but also ignores the record. 95% of all individuals and organizations that submitted comments in this proceeding supported keeping EBS educational and provided abundant examples of ways existing EBS programs are closing the digital divide throughout the U.S. today.
The consequences of this vote are too serious to get lost in the 5G hype. In the last decade, every time the FCC has granted an EBS waiver to an educational institution or tribal entity, those entities built networks that provide more affordable internet access to more rural Americans than anything available directly from the commercial sector. This is a stunning success record. Educational institutions and tribes have produced better results in less time, with less spectrum, and with less financial resources than the very providers that already hold 625 MHz of spectrum below 3 GHz, which is not being deployed in these same rural areas. While we’re pleased the FCC moved forward with a priority window for tribes, this Order unreasonably ‘declined’ to give new, rural educational institutions the opportunity to replicate these successes in the future.