RTG enthusiastically supports President Obama’s pledge to bring next generation high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans within the next five years. Increasing the availability of mobile broadband services will boost rural economies and help job creation in rural America. The issue truly is about connecting communities and small businesses in rural areas in places like Iowa and Alabama where RTG members serve.
However, in order to follow through on the President’s mission to connect every part of America to the digital age, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must address a few issues that are currently impeding the progress of spreading next generation mobile wireless throughout the country.
The FCC should further its efforts to quickly make more spectrum available for mobile broadband, especially those carriers in rural areas. The FCC should proceed with mandating reciprocal data roaming among all wireless carriers. Data roaming is critical to building a robust, competitive mobile marketplace throughout the country.
The FCC should reexamine the matter of exclusivity agreements between device manufacturers and mobile wireless operators. If all consumers have access to the most advanced wireless devices, broadband penetration rates will grow even faster. Additionally, the FCC should move forward with increasing backhaul capacity in rural and remote areas to speed the delivery of broadband fixed and mobile services to rural America.
RTG also commends the President’s acknowledgment of how mobile wireless technologies can enhance the capabilities of Public Safety. Now is the time to auction the 700 MHz D-Block to provide funding for the construction of a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for Public Safety and to ensure that rural public safety providers are given the tools President Obama mentioned in his State of the Union address.
From the President’s State of the Union Address:
“Within the next five years, we’ll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans. This isn’t just about — (applause) — this isn’t about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”