Today, RTG filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission expressing concern with the so-called “industry consensus” proposal submitted by the Rural Associations and USTelecom. “These wireline industry-developed proposals are not a product of any overall wireless industry consensus,” noted RTG’s General Counsel, Carri Bennet. “The wireless sections contained in both the RLEC Plan and the ABC Plan fail to reflect the concerns of rural wireless carriers or address the need for ongoing wireless support in high-cost areas. It is a given that consumers view mobile wireless as playing the most important role in the country’s broadband future and these proposals appear to ignore this reality.”
RTG points out in its comments that the size of any Mobility Fund needs to be substantially larger than $300 million and should reflect specific, ongoing support in order to spur investment and ensure the availability of existing wireless services and the expansion of mobile broadband networks. In addition to being adequately funded, any Mobility Fund should address the need for ongoing wireless high-cost support in remote and rural areas. Regarding the proposed phase-out of support, RTG members have used support from the current USF to construct and maintain wireless networks in rural areas, and any phase out of support should provide for a transition over at least ten years given the highly capital intensive nature of wireless telecommunications infrastructure upgrades. Additionally, wireless carriers should not be required to share funding with satellite carriers because they will not be the ones receiving help from satellite carriers to serve their territories. Any support for satellite service should come out of the funding that is reserved for incumbent wireline carriers.
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who each serve less than 100,000 subscribers. RTG’s members have joined together to speed delivery of new, efficient and innovative telecommunications technologies to remote and underserved communities. ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless
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