FCC's RDOF Auction Procedures Will Get More Rural Americans OnlineThe following quote may be attributed to Louis Peraertz, VP of Policy for WISPA:
Washington, DC, June 9, 2020 – Ensuring that all Americans have Internet access has been one of Congress’ primary goals since the Internet became commercially viable. The FCC’s action today, which creates auction procedures for the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), represents an important step toward that end – one which will work to invite more bidders to the table and thus make the program more effective for Americans in the digital divide.
WISPs serve the very hardest to reach places in our country and bring much needed broadband to those who live there. They are an essential lifeline in the communities where they operate. A number of our members participated and were successful in the prior CAF II auction, the general model for the RDOF. Many plan to participate in the RDOF, too, seeking to compete for Federal support to grow their service for their rural communities.
Though we await to the see the details, reportedly the auction will allow fixed wireless providers – including those in the already available, unlicensed 57-71 GHz band, the licensed 24, 28, 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands, and the soon-to-be realized unlicensed 6 GHz band – to bid in all performance tiers, as well as use that wireless technology to satisfy their buildout obligations. The auction will also become more transparent, providing more information to participants where two or more bidders are competing for a census block. These aspects among others will mean more small innovators will want to bid, bringing a greater array of solutions to the table for consideration, and making the auction more taxpayer friendly at the same time.
WISPs are part of the solution in bridging the digital divide. They deliver rapidly built, robust and cost-effective high-speed broadband to America’s digital deserts. We are proud they play an integral and growing role in getting more rural Americans online, something made even more important with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to working with the Commission as it proceeds with the RDOF reverse auction.
WISPA’s approximately 900 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. Our members, and WISPs, in general, provide broadband access to over 6 million residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.