Accelerating Broadband Connectivity Act Will Hasten Broadband Deployment for Rural AmericansThe following statement may be attributed to Claude Aiken, President and CEO of WISPA:
Washington, DC, June 22, 2020 – Geography, population densities and unfavorable economics, among other factors, bedevil the task of policymakers to get broadband out to the unserved. The FCC’s pending $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) reverse auction will soon provide support to rural providers to bring millions of Americans online The pandemic, however, means that we must hasten those efforts.
The “Accelerating Broadband Connectivity Act of 2020” (ABCA), introduced by Senate Commerce Committee Chair Roger Wicker (R-MS), seeks to incentivize and speed up the RDOF process so that those left in the rural digital divide can get online quicker. Rural providers who have won RDOF support and who voluntarily choose to begin construction within 180 days and deliver broadband within one year would be eligible to receive expedited, one-time funding offers from the FCC to build those networks. Importantly, it does this in a truly technologically neutral manner, leaving the decision process to the FCC and its upcoming auction.
Our members continue to grow their networks and some certainly participate in the RDOF, and we have high hopes that many will win support to grow their networks to serve the unserved. We are confident that those winners who choose expedited funding can meet this challenge and get new rural communities online.
This bill will help even more rapidly more rural Americans get the Internet. We want thank Chairman Wicker for his dedicated leadership on this integral matter – one which accommodates today’s exigencies and works to comprehensively expand broadband deployment in unserved areas.
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.