FCC’s Rural Broadband Plan is Digital Favoritism, Not Digital Empowerment, WISPA Says
Washington, DC (February 23, 2017) – On behalf of thousands of small, competitive broadband providers serving more than 3 million customers across America, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) is very disappointed by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) action today in adopting additional rules for the upcoming Connect America Fund (CAF II) auction.
On a divided vote, the commissioners approved new guidelines for a “reverse auction” in which companies will bid to receive portions of a $2 billion fund to support voice and broadband deployment in under-served areas over the next 10 years.
WISPA had major concerns about the FCC’s original approach, put forward in September 2015, because it favored specific broadband access technologies over others without regard to cost-effectiveness or speed of deployment; and it would have effectively barred bidders who proposed to use unlicensed spectrum to deliver broadband.
Then, in May 2016, the FCC adopted a framework for the auction that reflected many of the features of a WISPA proposal that sought technology-neutral, cost-effective, performance-based rules.
Today’s action went back in the wrong direction, adding features that will tend to favor the costliest technologies (fiber) over the most cost-effective (wireless). This approach will cost the Universal Service Fund more money to serve fewer homes and businesses.
“Today’s decision is a squandered opportunity for the American taxpayer and rural Americans,” said Alex Phillips, president of WISPA. “This plan is digital favoritism, not digital empowerment.”
“Rather than using the auction to drive competition and spur innovation, the FCC’s plan will disproportionately subsidize a particular access technology that large corporations have tried and abandoned in hard-to-reach areas due to excessive cost, slow deployment, and lack of demand. As a result, too many rural Americans will remain on the wrong side of the digital divide, and those who do get access will have to wait much longer to be connected to ‘Lamborghini’ service.”
As the plan moves forward, WISPA will continue to work with the FCC and all stakeholders to advocate for a fair and balanced auction for the subsidies.
WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless internet service provider industry. For more information, visit www.wispa.org.
Dale Curtis for WISPA, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: (202) 495-3701 (office) or 202-246-5659 (mobile)
All Other Inquiries:
Trina Coffey, email@example.com, 866-317-2851