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Forbes Mercy Including Fixed Wireless in the USF Discussion

in Expert Opinion/Fiber/Mobile Broadband/Universal Service/Wireless/WISP by

WASHINGTON, DC October 24, 2011 -

Forbes Mercy, President of Washington Broadband Inc and WISPA VP/ Legislative Chair shared some thoughts and comments with BroadbandBreakfast.com after our panel on “Bringing Broadband Infrastructure to Rural Areas: Where is the Progress?”

You can watch the video of the panel or check out Broadband Breakfast’s summary below:

http://broadbandbreakfast.com/2011/10/broadband-infrastructure-to-rural-areas-is-on-the-move-at-the-broadband-breakfast-club/

“Our first goal was to remind those attending that Fixed Wireless is the often forgotten delivery method of Internet to more rural areas than any other solution of high speed Internet.  Many of our providers, all small business owners first introduced the Internet to their communities.  There are over 2000 Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP’s) servicing more than 2 million customers throughout all 50 states.  We are represented by

the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA).

WISP’s ignore the corporate density matrix used by major carriers who seek 1000-3000 homes per square mile often going as low as 10 to 20% of the statewide households per square mile.  WISPA has worked to use NTIA data to provide a visual map of 21 states to date showing in some cases such as Texas that 75% of the area with homes as few as 10.48 per square miles were being served exclusively by Fixed Wireless Broadband Providers. The use of this data will provide clarity and credibility in preventing federally funded aid to competitors in the form of grants or USF when an existing provider is already incumbent.

WISP’s have speeds in excess of the National Broadband Plan in most cases and should not be discounted when counting underserved or unserved areas because we are not corporate giants.

Spectrum is being sought by mobile and fixed wireless providers. Mobile equipment is over 100 times more expensive than fixed and thus fixed can be deployed much more quickly in rural areas with a faster Return on Investment which leads to lower monthly costs and deeper expansion into rural areas.  Using a narrower low power band it is more
efficient to allow contiguous space to the Fixed providers who are already deployed in many of the areas currently considered unserved.”

WISPA Tackles Key Issues at Summer Meeting in St. Louis

in Expert Opinion/FCC/National Broadband Plan/Spectrum/States/Uncategorized/Wireless by

By St. Louis Broadband President Victoria Proffer and Alex Goldman of WISPA

ST. LOUIS, July 30, 2010 – The Wireless Internet Service Providers’ Association took the opportunity to address key issues of concern to its members at its summer meeting in St. Louis this month.

The three-day event included several instructional tracks including regulatory, business and technical agendas.

Priorities included the television white spaces proceeding and order, which was issued in 2008. Each WISPA member has a list of potential customers who have tried to get service but whose homes could not be reached with existing spectrum.

WISPA members are eagerly awaiting the release of sub-900 megahertz spectrum that would allow them to reach those who do not yet have broadband. This valuable spectrum travels through obstacles such as trees that higher bands cannot penetrate.

WISPA’s FCC committee provided an update on the current status of the proceeding, and the FCC’s Julius Knapp and WISPA friend Michael Calabrese of the New America Foundation offered further insight.

Calabrese cautioned that the cellular companies are trying to get some of the white spaces spectrum offered for license or for the exclusive use of the cellular companies, known as the FiberTower proposal.

Knapp noted that the FCC needs to get the white spaces proceeding complete in order to deliver a comprehensive spectrum plan. The National Broadband Plan requires that this spectrum plan be complete by Oct. 1.

He praised the cooperative relationship between the FCC and WISPA – especially work on the 3.65 gigahertz and 5 gigahertz frequencies for unlicensed and licensed-lite usage. He offered his expectation that WISPA and the FCC would have “the same productive participation on future challenges as we have had in the past.”

Knapp provided a big-picture view of other activities such as the FCC’s spectrum dashboard, incentive auctions, more spectrum for mobile broadband and for licensed backhaul.

He noted that the backhaul issue, which is important for cellular carriers who need to supply increased bandwidth, is expected to be discussed at the Aug. 5 FCC commissioners meeting.

Knapp’s presentation left the impression that no matter how the spectrum pie is cut, WISPs will receive a sufficient share to allow them to bring broadband service to America’s unserved or underserved citizens as called for in the National Broadband Plan.

Knapp urged WISPA to continue to “have a presence at our meetings; keep us apprised of your needs and continue to participate and to have a voice in FCC proceedings.”

Other key speakers at the regional meeting included Dewayne Hendricks, the original broadband cowboy and Doug Karl of Karlnet, whose products brought polling to wireless in the 1990s and fundamentally improved the industry when it was in its infancy.

WISPA also presented the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar database, a collaboration between WISPA, equipment makers, database provider Spectrum Bridge, the Federal Aviation Administration and FCC.

The TDW radars operate at major U.S. airports to detect hazardous conditions such as downdrafts and warn aircraft of those conditions when they are most vulnerable: taking off and landing. The voluntary database promises to fix a lingering issue regarding interference and shows that the fixed wireless broadband industry can proactively deliver solutions to problems without requiring the heavy hand of regulation.

WISPA members are primarily from rural areas, and rural broadband is a keystone of the National Broadband Plan. Many already provide service in areas that some maps show as lacking broadband.

Members will meet next at The Broadband Expo at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, from Nov. 1-3.

Definition of Broadband Could Pit Rural Versus Urban, Market Forces Against Public Interest

in Broadband Stimulus/NTIA by

News | NTIA-RUS Forum | Day 4, Session 1

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2009 – Experts and citizens split words at the NTIA/RUS Thursday morning public roundtable seeking to define broadband – an essential element to determine what projects receive federal funding under stimulus spending.

Thursday was the fourth of six days of public hearings by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service on how to spend $7.2 billion in broadband funds.

The discussion will continue in Washington on Monday and Tuesday.

Mark Lloyd, vice president of strategic initiatives at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said the definition of broadband should be centered around speeds and how broadband can serve as a means of communication. He said the debate has its source in the legal frameworks adopted by Congress in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

“New definitions must focus on hard speeds,” said Lloyd. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We cannot manage what we cannot measure.”

Stagg Newman, principal of Piggah Communication Consulting, said definitions should center around understanding what the service is, acceptable network infrastructure, and a series of metrics by which to measure both.

“A backbone network from central and surrounding areas is needed across the nation. Infrastructure is also needed for emergency responders, and a satellite back-up for geographical cover,” he said.

Newman added: “Let us consider trade-offs to affordability. I know that is controversial but let us put it out there.”

Fred Campbell, president and CEO of Wireless Communication Association, said that “the definition should be viewed as a gating mechanism, not a measure of evaluating grant eligibility.”

Dave Malfura, president and CEO of ETC Group, LLC., said broadband should be defined as “a service which allows users to access the world’s resources and its inhabitants without Encumbrances.”

The components must be defined at granular level too, he said. Speed, he said, is a moveable target, and market forces will keep changing it.

“By supporting at a minimum level as laid down in law, we would fulfill the Hippocratic Oath, ‘Do no harm,’ first,” he said.

Tom DeReggi, vice president and legislative committee director for the Wireless Internet Providers’ Association (and founder of Rapid DSL & Wireless internet service provider), said the speeds will be determined by market forces and the environments of operation.

“We could do so much more if we were empowered and none of us left to do anything alone,” he said.

DeReggi continued: “We’ll need technology that does not require permits in order for us to implement and engineer. We’ll need to stand by people who have vested interests in helping their communities and nurture relationships with stakeholders.”

Daniel Mitchell, vice president for the legal and industry division of the National Telecommunications Corporation, said the crisis of definition was both “elusive and evolving.”

“The definition must meet existing and emerging needs. Unserved ought to mean no service at all, and underserved to mean anything below standards set up by the Federal Communications Commission,” he said.

Chris Vein, chief information officer of San Francisco, said the underserved people need video, voice and data. Broadband speeds, he said, might need to be symmetrical.

“We need fiber-optics and high speed wireless. Let us go for the greatest speed possible. Let us pursue public-private partnerships. And let us not forget that communities vary across the country and even within cities,” he said.

Leroy Watson, legislative director for the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, said the crisis of definition won’t be wished away, and that both short and long-term goals must be determined.

“There will be various technical issues to be ironed out. Active and passive applications on the web should be supported, including interactions with third-party players,” he said.

The United States, he added, is a large continent and broadband is just be one of the many steps required to meet the needs of neglected peoples and areas in the country’s 200 year history.

During the public comment phase, the audience expressed concern over the tension between market forces and the public interest, about eligibility guidelines, and about the viability of relying on market forces in view of recent economic setbacks.

They also raised issues about the broadband stimulus funds pitting rural and urban areas, about broadband reliability, redundancy and security in the context of public safety.

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