Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order to make changes to its Priority Access Licenses in the 3.5 GHz Band (3550-3700 MHz). Today’s action needlessly rolls back a unanimous 5-0 Commission vote from April 2015 and is counterproductive to helping the agency achieve its stated goal of closing the rural digital divide.
Today, Public Knowledge joined 20 rural advocacy organizations, rural healthcare providers, rural network operators, and public interest advocates in a letter urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to preserve the existing Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) rules that enable small providers to offer service in rural areas.
On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on an Order and Declaratory Ruling it claims will promote deployment of next-generation wireless networks. The crux of the FCC’s action will impose stringent limits on the fees states and localities charge wireless companies to install and maintain small cells in public rights-of-way (ROW) and on other government property. Additionally, the FCC substitutes decision-making by local elected officials with its own on issues ranging from public safety to community aesthetics when a locality considers a wireless small cell application.
In Swanton, California, just over 50 miles outside of tech Mecca Silicon Valley, my family can’t get reliable internet. Though affordability remains the number one barrier to internet adoption, we don’t lack connection because of a budget crunch. Instead, we lack access because we live in a rural area and carriers like ours, AT&T, have stopped investing and maintaining internet infrastructure in less populated areas.
Today, Public Knowledge Foundation joined 17 other organizations to form the Broadband Connects America coalition. The Coalition is comprised of a wide range of consumer, rural, and social justice organizations committed to closing the digital divide. Coinciding with today’s launch, Broadband Connects America released the Principles to Connect Rural America -- five principles to serve as a foundation for policymakers and advocates to promote policies that work to bring broadband to millions of rural Americans.