Washington, D.C. – The Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (RWA) applauds the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) decision to adopt the 5G Fund for Rural America (5G Fund) Report and Order in today’s October Open Meeting. Getting the 5G Rural Fund underway is critical to ensuring the future of connectivity in rural America. 5G will be the key to ensuring improved agriculture productivity, sustainable energy production and telehealth applications just to name a few. Importantly, in the Report and Order, the Commission included several of the elements advocated by RWA and NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association in their “Phase 0” proposal that would preserve legacy support for carriers who commit to build out 5G service in their legacy support areas. Under the Report and Order, some legacy carriers will have the opportunity to continue to receive their legacy support in exchange for meeting 5G deployment commitments, dependent on the amount of legacy support those carriers receive.
Rural legacy support carriers have a long demonstrated history of using their legacy universal service support to efficiently serve some of the most rural areas of America. With this legacy support these rural carriers have upgraded their networks from 2G to 3G and from 3G to 4G LTE and expanded their coverage footprints to reach remote areas. Legacy support recipients have been good stewards of the universal service funds received and RWA is encouraged that the FCC is supporting their work to continue to bring advanced mobile services to rural America.
“The devil is in the details,” noted Carri Bennet, General Counsel. “The FCC still has to work through the adjustment factor, determine coverage that T-Mobile claims it will provide (under its commitment to build 5G to rural areas within 6 years from the April 1, 2020 merger consummation with Sprint), and how legacy support carriers will disaggregate support in their service areas,” she added.