FCC FINALIZES PLANS FOR CONNECT AMERICA FUND PHASE II AUCTION,
BUT FALLS SHORT OF ENSURING MAXIMUM BENEFITS FOR RURAL AMERICA -- WISPA PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1, 2018
Washington, DC -- The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) this week took the final steps required to launch its Connect America Fund Phase II auction (CAF II), which will provide up to nearly $2 billion over the next decade to expand fixed, high-speed Internet service in unserved rural areas.
As part of its monthly meeting, the FCC approved a plan to begin the auction on July 24, with applications to participate due by March 30. The FCC also adopted an order addressing all pending challenges to its earlier auction proposals, including those submitted by the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA).
“Over the last two years, WISPA promoted a framework for the auction that would be technology-neutral, cost-effective, performance-based, and not too burdensome for smaller providers to participate in,” said WISPA President Chuck Hogg. “We appreciate that the FCC considered our comments and adopted a number of our suggestions.
“However,” Hogg said, “we concur with the remarks of Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who said this week that the bidding weights assigned to different service tiers ‘will tip the scale towards funding gigabit service in a few communities at enormous costs while leaving many more unserved Americans with no broadband option whatsoever for many years to come.’
“In other words,” Hogg said, “the CAF II auction may help close the rural-urban broadband gap in some places, and some of our members may participate in the program and help advance that worthy goal. But as this decision demonstrates, subsidies alone will not close the gap.
“The FCC’s upcoming decisions on the ‘CBRS’ spectrum band now take on added importance,” Hogg added.
WISPA has been working to discourage the FCC from adopting changes in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band that would effectively block small ISPs from using those airwaves to serve rural areas. (See http://www.wispa.org/Advocacy/CBRS_SPECTRUM.)
As is always the case with new regulations, WISPA will be working to provide information to association members who wish to participate in the CAF II program, including a session at its upcoming WISPAmerica Conference and Expo on March 6-8.
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.
Dale Curtis and Breyana Franklin for WISPA
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