Even as President Donald Trump spends his time promising rural Americans that closing the digital divide is a top priority, his agencies are taking steps that will only make that goal harder to achieve.
The Federal Communications Commission is currently considering a rule changethat would alter how it doles out licenses for wireless spectrum. These changes would make it easier and more affordable for Big Telecom to scoop up licenses, while making it almost impossible for small, local wireless ISPs to compete.
The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum is the rather earnest name for a chunk of spectrum that the federal government licenses out to businesses. It covers 3550-3700 MHz, which is considered a “midband” spectrum. It can get complicated, but it helps to think of it how radio channels work: There are specific channels that can be used to broadcast, and companies buy the license to broadcast over that particular channel.
The FCC will be auctioning off licenses for the CBRS, and many local wireless ISPs—internet service providers that use wireless signal, rather than cables, to connect customers to the internet—have been hoping to buy licenses to make it easier to reach their most remote customers.
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