FCC urged to vet rural broadband provider promises

A bipartisan group of 160 senators and House members is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to verify that broadband providers can truly give rural Americans the high-quality service they promised to deliver.

NRECA and NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association are worried that some companies that made winning bids during the first phase of the recent Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction do not have the ability to carry out their ambitious plans.

In a letter sent Jan. 19 at the urging of the NRECA, lawmakers asked the commission to scrutinize the long-form applications that auction winners must now submit to the agency to validate that they have the technical, financial, managerial and operational skills and resources to perform as promised. Providers must submit the applications for approval to receive federal funds.

One of NRECA’s concerns is that some companies won bids promising service they cannot deliver. For example, several companies said they could provide gigabit speeds using fixed wireless technology that is not widely available, said Kelly Wismer, NRECA’s lobbyist on broadband issues.

“Many of the winning applicants claim they will deliver levels of service with certain technologies that are only achievable in extremely limited conditions and terrain – or still not commercially available,” Wismer said. “At the end of the day, what’s important to NRECA is that the broadband provider, whoever it is, can deliver on the promises they made so unserved Americans get access to high-speed internet.”

Source: NRECA