Congressman Tom O'Halleran and FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington Keynote 2nd Day at WISPAMERICA 2021

Grapevine, TX, April 28, 2021 – Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington virtually keynoted WISPAMERICA 2021 today, outlining their policy priorities and focus for WISPA members during the association’s annual convention in Grapevine, TX.

Congressman O’Halleran represents Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, and sits on the House Agriculture and Energy and Commerce Committees.  His district is in largely rural and Tribal Territory, making access to broadband particularly important for residents there.  Rep. O’Halleran is intimately involved in crafting an infrastructure package in Congress to boost broadband deployment and adoption for all.  Among other topics, the Representative discussed the challenge of coming up with a comprehensive broadband proposal, noting:

“Democrats and Republicans agree that we need to make real progress on rural broadband.  President Biden and Congressional leaders have proposed a $100 billion investment in brining internet access to every community and county, no matter how rural…Any investment in this space needs to balance highspeed technology with achieving the goal of universal access.  We must also ensure that government and internet service providers work together.”

Commissioner Nathan Simington is the newest Commissioner on the FCC, occupying the second Republican seat at the Commission.  He came from the Department of Commerce, and before that was an academic and financial adviser.  Commissioner Simington’s market-based approach guided his remarks, believing, among other matters, that the pandemic showed the effectiveness of private investment in keeping networks up and running; and that:

“COVID brought gaps that existed into sharp relief.  And I think [WISPs] are looking toward filling those gaps in focusing their efforts in investment rather than redefining the gap to now cover people who can’t get 100 [mbps] uplink.  Because that’s a very high bar and I’m not sure there’s a real need for it.  And I think [WISPs] are trying to touch people who are underserved.  Those in rural America, on Tribal Lands…And frankly I think that’s a better place to focus our efforts.”  

WISPs serve nearly 7 million Americans in the toughest to reach areas of the country.  They do this through an open toolbox, which includes the use of licensed, licensed-by-rule and unlicensed spectrum, as well as fiber, for the delivery of fixed broadband solutions to homes and businesses.  They are vocal allies for their communities in bridging the digital divide, and keenly follow developments in Washington and elsewhere which affect broadband deployment and adoption.

WISPA’s 1000 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 millions of residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.

Mike Wendy