Consumers and Industry Will Benefit from FCC Action During “Rural Broadband Month” to Bridge the Digital Divide
Washington, DC – August 3, 2017 – Today, during its August Open Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) took significant steps to facilitate its “Rural Broadband Month” agenda in an effort to bridge the digital divide. The Commission adopted a Second Report & Order to distribute Mobility Fund II support to areas where service is lacking; a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise Form 477 coverage data; and a Notice of Inquiry to explore ways to unlock critical mid-band spectrum resources. Competitive Carriers Association (“CCA”) thanks the Commission for adopting these items, which will help to bring much-needed mobile broadband service and next-generation technologies to all consumers, particularly those in unserved and underserved rural areas.
In a statement, CCA President & CEO Steven K. Berry said, “I thank the Commission, under the leadership of Chairman Pai, for adopting the MFII Order, which will identify areas lacking comparable mobile broadband service than that provided in urban areas. The FCC heard, listened, and has answered Congress’ calls for accurate data, and the MFII Order is timely on the heels of advancing bipartisan legislation to standardize this data from Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).”
“Together, these efforts will significantly benefit all consumers, especially those living in remote parts of the United States where coverage is needed most. While we await release of the final item, I am confident that with today’s decision, the FCC has taken significant steps to improving the data collection process to ensure accurate, reliable data is used when determining areas where MFII support will be allotted, improved the challenge process, and keeps moving forward towards an operational MFII. Specifically, I am encouraged to hear that the Order includes a number of other important factors, including cell edge probability and signal strength, to ensure an accurate picture of on-the-ground coverage in rural areas.”
“Additionally, I commend the Commission for adopting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise and improve Form 477 data collection processes. Acknowledging that current Form 477 data is insufficient, the FCC is taking a significant step toward reforming the coverage data upon which it will base important policy decisions moving forward, including those affecting federal funding, telehealth initiatives, the Internet of Things, and other noteworthy next-generation services.”
“Finally, I thank the FCC and Chairman Pai for exploring additional spectrum opportunities, particularly for wireless broadband, through its adoption of the Notice of Inquiry regarding 3.7 to 24 GHz spectrum. Competitive carriers need access to low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum resources to deploy next-generation services and technologies to their consumers, and this Notice of Inquiry marks a significant step toward achieving this laudable goal.”
“As Commissioner Clyburn noted, this is a ‘watershed moment.’ Chairman Pai was able to accomplish in 6 months what the Commission has been trying to complete for 6 years, and I’m pleased the FCC continues its work to bridge the digital divide. The Commission should have the very best information at hand when determining areas eligible for MFII support, and other policy decisions using Form 477 data moving forward. Likewise, consumers in rural America will certainly be the ones to benefit from these decisions and those that free-up additional spectrum resources that will be used to support 5G and the Internet of Things. I commend the Commission and Congress for their leadership on these endeavors, and look forward to continued work together to achieve this mutual goal.”
CCA is the nation’s leading association for competitive wireless providers and stakeholders across the United States. The licensed service area of CCA’s nearly 100 carrier members covers 95 percent of the nation. Visit www.ccamobile.org.
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