RWA is pleased that the FCC has determined in its “Mobility Fund Phase II Coverage Maps Investigation Staff Report” that Verizon and T-Mobile clearly overstated their coverage in submissions made to the FCC that would have denied access to universal service funds in areas they serve to support 4G LTE. The Staff Report found that drive testing conducted by FCC staff showed that collectively only 62.3% of the drive tests conducted by the FCC met the necessary download speeds adopted by the FCC. RWA called for an investigation of both Verizon and T-Mobile based on its members’ drive tests which resulted in abysmal coverage results. The subsequent FCC investigation and resulting Staff Report has validated the challenges made by RWA’s members. “RWA members spent millions of dollars and limited staff resources to challenge the grossly overstated maps filed by Verizon and T-Mobile – money and time that could have been targeted to expanding coverage in unserved areas. FCC staff too spent tax payer dollars to verify the overstated coverage claims uncovered by our members. In the grand scheme of things, this money has been well spent so that future USF can be targeted where it is needed instead of big carriers trying to fake their coverage to deprive these areas of funding”, stated Carri Bennet, General Counsel.
Because of the delay associated with the Mobility Fund Phase II process, RWA members determined that the better course of action would be for the FCC to move on, jettison the disingenuous data, and target Mobility Fund Phase II funds for 5G deployment. The announcement from Chairman Pai today is along the lines of what RWA has been promoting. Utilizing the previously allocated MF II funds plus additional funding to bring 5G to rural America is in line with RWA’s thinking. On top of it, accurate coverage maps using clear engineering guidelines as recommended by the Staff Report will improve the accuracy of where these limited resources will be targeted for 5G.