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FCC OKs Verizon Request for More Capacity as Network Use Spikes

America's vast communications network has been under pressure to provide Internet service to tens of millions of people who are suddenly working from home, taking school lessons and streaming video.

by Meg James, Los Angeles Times / March 19, 2020
Shutterstock/spainter_vfx

(TNS) — The nation's largest mobile phone carrier, Verizon, has received government permission for additional spectrum to handle a surge in Internet usage during the coronavirus health crisis.

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau late Wednesday said it granted Verizon's request for additional capacity so the phone company could meet subscribers' increased demand for Internet service on their phones. The emergency authority for the additional spectrum lasts 60 days.

America's vast communications network has been under pressure to provide Internet service to tens of millions of people who are suddenly working from home, taking school lessons and streaming video — all data-intensive activities. In addition, analysts are watching to see if companies' wireline broadband networks separately can handle the crush.

With the FCC order, New York-based Verizon can temporarily use spectrum licensed to two smaller companies, Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless License Co.

"Wireless services are a vital part of connectivity, and this has never been truer than during this crisis, when so many people are turning to telework, remote learning and telehealth options," FCC Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "I want to thank Northstar and SNR for their willingness to allow this use of the spectrum for which they hold licenses. I'm also grateful to Verizon for seeking out ways to meet increased consumer demand."

Verizon representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.

Earlier this week, the FCC granted similar requests by T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular to use spectrum that had been assigned to other companies.

Pai last week rallied the nation's phone and broadband Internet providers to take a "Keep Americans Connected Pledge," in recognition that millions of people are reeling from a sudden loss of income. Some may be unable to pay their bills.

As part of the pledge, dozens of companies agreed not to terminate Internet service for customers during the coronavirus outbreak, and open their Wi-Fi hotspots to users who do not subscribe to their service.

©2020 the Los Angeles Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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