Reliable Measurements Necessary to Close the Digital Divide Reviewed by Momizat on . Reliable Measurements Necessary to Close the Digital Divide By: Jon Lightle, President & CEO, Nex-Tech Wireless   Every carpenter is familiar with the Reliable Measurements Necessary to Close the Digital Divide By: Jon Lightle, President & CEO, Nex-Tech Wireless   Every carpenter is familiar with the Rating: 0
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Reliable Measurements Necessary to Close the Digital Divide

Reliable Measurements Necessary to Close the Digital Divide
By: Jon Lightle, President & CEO, Nex-Tech Wireless

 

Every carpenter is familiar with the proverb “measure twice, cut once.”  While it may take more time, this “practice” helps to ensure that you cut the wood accurately, knowing the wrong measurement would ruin the wood.  As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers how to auction $4.53 billion in support from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to preserve and expand mobile broadband services in rural areas through a program called Mobility Fund Phase II (MFII), I recommend that the FCC take a moment to measure mobile coverage twice to ensure its accuracy, which will help to safeguard limited USF resources.

In rural Kansas, Nex-Tech Wireless is committed to supporting our local communities and providing our customers with a wireless experience they expect and deserve.  We work every day to preserve and expand mobile broadband services, investing private capital and efficiently using USF resources to serve our neighbors.  MFII aspires to expand 4G LTE service where it is lacking.  Unfortunately, the current coverage measurements desperately need updating so that USF is available where needed.

To determine what areas receive USF support, the FCC is currently working off a map that would leave Kansas behind, with virtually none of the state eligible for the MFII funds, because the map shows that blazing speeds are already available across the state.  I applaud the steadfast leadership of U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, supported by our senior Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, and their work to update the FCC’s map.  Those efforts include joining nearly a third of the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai lamenting that the map “falls short of an accurate depiction of areas in need of universal service support.”

To correct the map, the FCC created a “challenge process” where carriers like Nex-Tech Wireless, as well as state and local governments and even the Kansas Farm Bureau, can measure where coverage is not up to par and make those areas eligible for MFII funds.  While this work is important, it also is time consuming and resource intensive, requiring data points on a granular level to address overstated claims of coverage.

Last Friday, Chairman Pai circulated an FCC order that, once approved, would extend the challenge process for an additional 90 days.  This extension is critical to participation in the challenge process, and I urge all FCC Commissioners to vote to support this extension as soon as possible, with the current August 27 challenge process deadline quickly approaching.  From one Kansan to another, I applaud Chairman Pai for taking this step, and look forward to working with the FCC and Congress to make sure mobile coverage measurements are accurate before conducting the MFII auction.  As Chairman Pai said last week, “it’s critical that we get it right.”  And to properly allocate limited USF monies, I urge the Chairman to measure twice.

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