Washington, D.C. – The Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (RWA) applauds the Mobility Fund Phase II Challenge Process Order on Reconsideration released today by the Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force and the Wireline Competition and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus (Bureaus).
The Bureaus’ Order would increase the maximum distance between speed test measurements from 500 to 800 meters and the associated buffer radius from 250 to 400 meters. The rationale behind the Order, adopted on the Bureaus’ own motion, was based on new evidence in the record submitted by RWA last month. RWA had expressed concern that use of a ¼ kilometer buffer radius would leave the vast majority of square kilometer grid cells in several different service areas unmeasurable using drive tests – and therefore tremendously difficult to challenge.
“We are encouraged by the Bureaus’ decision,” said Carri Bennet, RWA General Counsel, “while the grid cell size remains the same, lengthening the buffer radius will lessen the amount of hours required to launch a challenge. As it stood prior to the FCC reconsidering its choice of ¼ kilometer buffer, RWA members were looking at 50 or more hours a day for the entire 150-day challenge window just to take the necessary measurements.”
An RWA ex parte filed today in the docket shows that “[w]hereas 82.3 percent of the kilometer grid squares with a ¼ kilometer buffer would be unmeasurable using drive tests, that figure would be reduced to 44.87 percent with a 400 meter buffer.” Further analysis found that it would take 7,522 hours (or 50 hours per day for each of the 150 days in the challenge period) to test claimed unsubsidized coverage throughout the Oklahoma Panhandle using kilometer grid squares with a ¼ kilometer buffer. That figure decreases dramatically to 2,813 hours (or approximately 19 hours per day) using a square kilometer grid cell and 400 meter buffer radius.
“Today’s Order will help to alleviate the burden of participating in the MF-II Challenge Process,” said Bennet. “While much work remains to be done, RWA members and other prospective challengers will be better able to mount successful challenges, improve coverage data accuracy, and continue their tremendous efforts to provide mobile wireless broadband throughout rural America.”