BRIDGE Act Right to Focus on Digital Divide

The following statement – which covers the introduction of the Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy Act (BRIDGE Act) by Senators Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Angus King (I-Maine) – may be attributed to Christina Mason, VP of Government Affairs, WISPA:
Washington, DC, June 15, 2021 – We are encouraged by introduction of the BRIDGE Act and the Senators’ bi-partisan, laser focus on bridging the digital divide.  WISPs serve 7 million Americans there, 24/7/365.  These small local innovators provide a growing and ever-evolving slate of high-speed services to consumers left behind by big telecom corporations.  Consequently, WISPs know well the challenges of serving consumers left behind in the divide, and share many of the Senators’ concerns for these hard-to-reach areas of the country.   
That noted, we believe the BRIDGE Act could be made better for consumers in the divide and the small innovators already on the ground delivering the internet to them. 

To maximize government support, broadband policy should focus on areas that currently have no broadband options.  It should do so by inviting the largest palette of solutions to the table, too.  As the bill is written, however, the BRIDGE Act could have the unintentional effect of cutting consumers off from community-based providers and the broadband services they already receive, leaving the most vulnerable behind, and for those who remain, paying higher bills.

We look forward to working with the Senators and all other stakeholders to make sure that the BRIDGE Act best achieves its goal of bringing affordable, competitive broadband to all Americans.

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