Chief Executive Officers of 18 small wireless companies want FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to temporarily suspend plans to change a mobile broadband funding plan. The CEOs urged the Commission to revise its Mobility Fund II plan to ensure sufficient, predictable support for the preservation and deployment of wireless networks.
“Competitive wireless carriers depend on Universal Service Funding, in addition to their own capital resources, to provide comparable service to their consumers in rural areas, and the FCC’s current plan, based on unreliable coverage data, will significantly harm the businesses and consumers that USF is intended to benefit,” they say in a letter.
CCA President/CEO Steven Berry says the agency is relying on “inaccurate and inconsistent information” to determine areas that will be eligible for MFII support. Berry and the other CEOs urged FCC to review its data and use “the most accurate measurement analysis” to identify coverage gaps; they note that private companies have the ability to test coverage with greater accuracy than the FCC’s current methods and hope the agency will use them.
“Most alarming, particularly for rural wireless consumers, is the Commission’s intent to immediately slash legacy USF in many areas where services consumers enjoy today could be reduced by a flash cut of support,” said Berry. “Rural areas are some of the most difficult to serve, and putting these funds ‘on the chopping block’ will directly impact carriers’ abilities to continue service and will harm consumers that live in or visit these areas. As these CEOs noted, a flash-cut is fiscally irresponsible, especially given the amount of budgetary planning required to maintain and build out networks.”
Pai has criticized the fund for wasteful spending of some $25 million each month to subsidize wireless carriers in areas where private capital has been spent building out networks. He wants to redirect that money to bring 4G LTE coverage to rural areas.
February 16, 2017