NEW FCC PROCEEDING IS MIXED BAG FOR DEPLOYMENT OF HIGH-QUALITY BROADBAND IN RURAL AND UNDER-SERVED AREAS
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Washington, DC – The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) is concerned that a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proceeding will slow down the deployment of broadband to rural Americans.
The FCC adopted a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on the use of “mid-band” spectrum, which includes spectrum in the 3700-4200 MHz and 5925-7125 MHz bands.
In launching the NOI, the FCC appears to be advancing a broader and more time-consuming inquiry ahead of a June 21 petition filed by the new, diverse Broadband Access Coalition, which includes WISPA. The Coalition’s petition called on the FCC to authorize new, licensed, point-to-multipoint (P2MP) fixed wireless services in the 3700-4200 MHz band. Currently, that band is under-utilized by fixed satellite services.
The Coalition’s proposed licensing scheme and operating rules would enable gigabit and near-gigabit broadband service in rural and underserved areas, and promote competition for broadband delivery among various technologies and licensees, without disrupting existing uses. Comments on the Coalition’s petition are due by August 7.
WISPA is encouraged that the FCC is looking at the 5925-7125 MHz band, which offers opportunities for both indoor and outdoor use on a shared basis with incumbent users. However, including the 3700-4200 MHz band in the NOI could lead to years of regulatory delay and uncertainty, preventing small, locally based, fixed wireless providers from going ahead with rural broadband deployments in that band.
“WISPA believes that the fastest, simplest, most cost-effective way to finally close the rural broadband gap and bring affordable broadband to millions of Americans who lack access and choice is the approach we proposed in the Broadband Access Coalition’s petition for rulemaking on June 21,” says Mark Radabaugh, WISPA’s FCC Committee chair. “The NOI threatens to block that way forward. We do look forward to participating in the proceeding and offering a way forward on both portions of the mid-band spectrum.”
“Consistent with Chairman Pai’s stated goal of bridging the digital divide, WISPA members are increasingly making use of mid-band spectrum to provide fixed wireless broadband in tribal, rural and suburban areas. Our industry stands ready to deploy and innovate in the 3700-4200 MHz band immediately.”
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WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless Internet service provider industry. WISPA has over 800 members that support WISPA’s advocacy, education and other collaborative industry initiatives. For more information, visit www.wispa.org.
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