The annual conference for the National Educational Broadband Service (EBS) Association (NEBSA), was held in Tampa earlier this week. This year’s conference offered a variety of panels related to EBS regulatory policy, wireless technology, the wireless industry and the good EBS is doing. EBS spectrum allows Mobile Citizen to provide the low-cost wireless 4G internet we provide to nonprofits, educational entities and social welfare agencies. Representatives of Mobile Citizen’s parent company, Voqal were in attendance to engage in this important conference.

Voqal’s own John Schwartz participated in a panel titled “Washington Update – EBS and the Sprint Merger,” where he explained how the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger will create a spectrum colossus in the 2.5 GHz band that will far exceed the spectrum screen in most markets. The New T-Mobile would surpass the ever valuable low- and mid-band spectrum holdings of its two national competitors, AT&T and Verizon. In addition, because New T-Mobile would control the only viable mid-band option in the market today, the merger could slow others from deploying 5G at a time when America faces fierce competition internationally.

Given this reality, divestiture is not only a significant probability but also a way to address some harms resulting from the potential merger. Schwartz advocated that determining a pro-EBS way to influence this likely scenario is a smart thing to do. Conceding that the unknowns of divestiture may create uncertainty for current licensees, Schwartz pointed out that the EBS community is left with no risk-free option at this stage. According to Schwartz, a monopsony combined with a likely “sales regime” as a result of the EBS rulemaking eliminating eligibility rules would spark the beginning of the end of EBS. Interested in learning more about Voqal’s support for partial spectrum divestiture? Click here.

Between the tech talk and policy speculation, there were numerous impassioned pleas to help in the efforts to save EBS. NEBSA staff asked members to send in positive stories and help the organization’s efforts to influence the rulemaking both at the FCC and on Capitol Hill. Those interested in sharing their EBS success story can submit them here: https://nebsa.org/index.cfm/about-us/ebs-in-action-story-submission/.

Learn more about NEBSA’s conference on the #makingairwaves blog.

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