Press Release Spectrum Reform

Public Knowledge Urges FCC to Update Mapping Data for 5G Rural America Fund

April 23, 2020 , , ,

Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would create a “5G Fund for Rural America,” committing up to $9 billion over the next decade to deploy 5G in rural areas. Public Knowledge supports funding 5G deployment but remains disappointed by the agency’s reluctance to base the funding on more accurate mapping data — especially since Congress just mandated the FCC to implement a new, more accurate mapping program. Public Knowledge looks forward to working with the FCC to make sure no Americans are left behind on the path to 5G.

The following can be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“5G should be as available to individuals in rural areas as it is to individuals in urban and suburban areas. Connectivity should not be dependent upon where you live. That is why we are pleased to see the FCC is creating the 5G Fund for Rural America. 

“Ultimately, however, funding 5G deployment in rural America is too important not to do right. That means using accurate data. It’s unclear why the FCC insists it can’t generate maps with accurate data by 2023, when Congress requires the FCC  to update the form it uses to collect broadband deployment data from carriers no later — and preferably earlier — than March of 2021. The FCC must adhere to its Congressional mandates, which means focusing on collecting accurate data in a timely manner. If the FCC does that, it can deploy funds based on accurate data without waiting three years to do so. 

“It’s an old joke to say: ‘fast or accurate, pick one.’ But digital equality is no laughing matter. It should only take a few extra months, not years, to get both fast and accurate federal money to communities that need it.”