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Canadian private equity blocks rural Americans from getting fiber broadband

A private equity firm based in Canada may prevent a lot of rural US Midwesterners from getting fiber broadband. But that’s OK with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) because it’s all perfectly legal. Mercury Broadband, which is majority owned by the private equity firm Northleaf Capital Partners, has claimed it covers vast swathes of Michigan, Kansas and Indiana with its fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband service.

And as a consequence of its claims on the FCC’s broadband map, many areas may not be eligible for Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding. The problem is that Mercury’s claims may be grossly overstated. Independent consultants as well as the state broadband officers for Kansas and Michigan think that Mercury has overstated its fixed wireless access coverage claims on the FCC’s broadband map.

But due to legal loopholes, the company is getting away with blocking other providers in those areas. In my opinion, it’s a shame that a foreign private equity firm seems to be gaming the maps with the result that many rural Americans won’t get fiber broadband to their homes. Benton

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