The Rural Telecommunications Group (RTG) heartily applauds President Obama’s announcement today introducing the Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative. In addition to releasing 500 MHz of additional spectrum for commercial use in the next decade, the initiative also recognizes the public benefit of incentive auctions as a means to unleash more spectrum while simultaneously raising billions of dollars in revenue. RTG especially supports the White House’s commitment to target $5 billion to fund the build out of 4G in rural America and to reform the Universal Service Fund to accommodate wireless broadband. While RTG still believes that an auction is the most efficient and productive use of the vacant 700 MHz “D Block” to ensure that 4G Public Safety communications are available in rural America, it is nonetheless proud of this Administration’s firm commitment to prepare Public Safety communications networks for the challenges of the 21st Century.
However, the President’s most laudable goal by far within the initiative is to deliver 4G wireless services to at least 98% of all Americans, including those in rural markets, within the next five years. The combination of newly released spectrum and rural build-out programs will go a long way toward achieving the President’s goals. However, only by combining these actions with additional steps that would ensure access to data roaming and network interoperability in the 700 MHz band, will it be possible for all Americans to have 3G and eventually 4G access from coast to coast, regardless of their wireless carrier, and regardless of where they live. Quite simply, the U.S. cannot win the future unless all of its citizens, including rural Americans, have the ability to connect wirelessly to the Internet where they live, work and travel.
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group 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. www.ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless
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