Twenty-two rural, education and public interest groups sent a letter on Tuesday urging Congress to ensure that the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to reallocate C-Band spectrum benefits rural and low-income Americans who currently do not have broadband access.
Congress has “a unique opportunity to direct $10 billion or more in auction revenue to pay for broadband infrastructure in underserved areas and to authorize the use of spectrum in that band for high-capacity fixed wireless service in rural and less densely populated areas on a shared basis,” the letter read.
“The combination of dedicating public auction revenue to support rural infrastructure and authorizing shared access to unused mid-band spectrum for use by small and rural operators is the most promising way to close the rural digital divide, promote competition, and make 5G more available and affordable for all Americans.”
The letter supports a public auction as opposed to permitting foreign satellite operators to privately sell the airwaves, and promotes spectrum sharing in the unsold portion of the band.
“A private sale of the C-Band would merely serve to enrich a handful of foreign satellite companies that have already conceded they hold spectrum far in excess of what they need to serve their customers,” said Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at interest group Public Knowledge. “Allowing this spectrum to remain underutilized or permitting a private sale will not serve the public interest or help achieve pressing national goals, such as closing the digital divide.”
Microsoft partners with Watch Communications to promote Airband initiative
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a partnership with internet service provider Watch Communications as a part of the Microsoft Airband project, which aims to bring high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved parts of rural America.
"Public-private partnerships, collaboration and understanding local initiatives are key to enabling connectivity success. Providing rural broadband can be difficult, so working as a team to solve the digital divide requires partners. We are excited to partner with Microsoft on this initiative," said Watch Communications CEO Greg Jarman.
Wireless Internet Service Providers Association elects new board
The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association announced the winners of its 2019 Board of Directors election on Tuesday. The new directors are Midco Fixed Wireless Manager Dave Giles, MetaLINK Technologies Co-Founder Todd Harpest, and Atheral Co-Founder Daniel White.
Giles, Harpest, and White will work with the board to “chart a smart and nimble course to meet the operation, technological, and policy challenges the industry faces in the coming years,” said WISPA President Claude Aiken.
(Photo of Microsoft Headquarters used by permission.)