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WISPA Applauds FCC's Proposed OTARD Update, Which Will Help Grow Rural Broadband

WISPA Applauds FCC's Proposed OTARD Update, Which Will Help Grow Rural Broadband

Washington, DC, April 12, 2019 – Today, a unanimous FCC initiated a rulemaking proceeding which seeks to update its over-the-air-reception device (OTARD) rule.  Among other things, the Commission is proposing to allow broadband “hubs” – pizza box-sized technology – on private property to serve groups of homes and businesses, helping align OTARD rules with how today’s wireless broadband networks are being built.  

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) applauds the FCC’s decision, which is another tool to break down barriers to broadband infrastructure deployment.  Wireless networks used to be constructed around larger coverage areas with fewer hubs.  Today’s networks, however, call for lots of smaller hubs placed closer to customers.  Hubs are especially important in the architecture of modern rural networks where they are attached to tall structures, like grain elevators, to deliver service to individuals. Though OTARD added “fixed wireless” antennas when it was last updated in 2000, a loophole left hubs and similar infrastructure out of OTARD’s broad preemption powers.  

Unfortunately, this omission exposes hubs to added permitting requirements, making construction of broadband networks which depend on them more costly and slower to deploy.  In short, the loophole is thwarting the roll-out of Internet access to America’s unserved and underserved areas, perpetuating the digital divide. 

WISPA requested that the Commission extend OTARD protections to cover all fixed wireless equipment, so long as it meets existing size and other reasonable restrictions for customer-end equipment.  The changes being proposed by the FCC to modernize OTARD will lower barriers to siting fixed wireless infrastructure, erasing geographical, cost and other challenges which inhibit the growth of rural broadband.  

“The small changes will have a big impact on deployment across the country,” said Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA.  “Streamlining siting of fixed wireless hubs will enable our members to have greater freedom to bring more high-speed Internet to more Americans, helping them better participate in our digital economy.”


 About WISPA
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.


Mike Wendy

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