On February 2, NDIA submitted reply comments to the FCC, in which we express our support for Communications Workers of America’s initial comments regarding the Lumen-Apollo transaction announced last year.
In August 2021, Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) announced plans to sell its incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) operations in 20 Midwest and Southeast states to Apollo Global Management (Apollo) for $7.5 billion.
As a result of this transaction, Apollo will acquire and oversee control of broadband services in these states. In November 2021, Apollo launched a new company called Brightspeed to implement these broadband services, with a goal of reaching more than 3 million consumer and business locations over the next five years through an investment of $2 billion.
This transaction, however, is potentially detrimental to the broadband and digital inclusion ecosystems of the states involved. Communications Workers of America (CWA) recognized that without the proper commitments from Brightspeed and adherence to fair deployment standards, the proposed transaction could reduce the equitability and affordability of broadband access and adoption in these states. Accordingly, CWA submitted comments to the FCC in support for imposing certain conditions onto the transaction in the interest of promoting broadband equity and affordability.
NDIA commends CWA for their comments and emphatically agrees with three of its recommendations therein:
1) As a condition of approving the Application, the Commission should impose strong minimum residential fiber deployment requirements in any approval order.
2) As a condition of approving the Application, the Commission should require equitable fiber deployment by Connect Holdings/Brightspeed.
3) As a condition of approving the Application, the Commission should require Brightspeed to participate in affordable voice and broadband programs including the Affordable Connectivity Program and Lifeline.
These conditions are critical to ensuring that the affected communities under the Lumen-Apollo transaction have equitable and affordable broadband access moving forward.
You can access NDIA’s reply comments here.