Washington, D.C., – The following statement may be attributed to Carri Bennet, Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (“RWA”) General Counsel:
Chairman Pai may have proclaimed August to be “Rural Broadband Month,” but the Commission’s Mobility Fund Phase II (MFII) draft item doesn’t live up to the hype. RWA is disappointed that the draft item fails to adequately address several issues key to ensuring the preservation and expansion of mobile broadband service in rural areas. RWA remains concerned with the lack of a 1 Mbps upload threshold to determine MFII support-eligible areas. Upload speeds are crucial to the end user’s experience – particularly real-time data exchanges like distance learning and telemedicine applications needed to ensure those living in rural America are not left behind. Further, the Commission’s failure to address the CDMA/GSM incompatibility and potential loss of voice fallback will leave mobile consumers traveling in rural America without the voice service that they have previously enjoyed. This lack of action and potential loss of service unnecessarily endangers public safety.
The Commission’s draft MFII challenge process plan places onerous burdens on small rural carriers. A significant “proof of lack of coverage” data submission requirement within a too-short 60-day challenge window and restrictions on challenger eligibility would limit the ability of interested parties to submit valid challenges for the sake of expediency and skew the marketplace to the benefit of large national MNOs.