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July 12, 2012

WISPA to Oppose FCC Subsidies Request by CenturyLink



By Arvind Arora
TMCnet Contributor



Fixed wireless technology offers a low-cost option for providing the broadband services to communities in underserved areas still not able to access them. As a result, the technology is being rapidly adopted across the globe.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA (News - Alert)), a trade association of over 600 WISPs, vendors and others related to offering fixed wireless broadband service nationwide, has announced its opposition of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) waiver request that has been filed by CenturyLink, a provider of high-speed internet, phone and TV services to homes and businesses.

Serving over three million residential and business customers, WISPs united under the WISPA have been operating within all the states through primarily unlicensed spectrum.

If the mentioned request submitted by CenturyLink is approved, the company will be able to receive the federal subsidies from the Connect America Fund for broadband deployment in those areas where the WISPs have already been offering their services.

Huge government subsidies have been offered by the government to Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILEC) for developing and maintaining wireline networks for voice service in rural areas, but still a large number of Americans cannot to access the broadband connectivity.

While CenturyLink says that if its waiver requested is denied, it will result in tens of thousands of households not being able to benefit from an opportunity to enjoy quality broadband services.

At the same time, the federally-funded National Broadband Map maintains that a large number of these areas are already being provided with broadband services by the WISPs.

Experts say that instead of receiving subsidies for areas already being served by the WISPs, CenturyLink must be supported by the Connect America Fund for serving the areas that really don’t have access to the broadband services of any kind. Additionally, the broadband services provided by WISPs to underserved communities on the National Broadband Map feature much lower prices and offer higher speeds than CenturyLink’s plans.

“Fixed wireless providers are serving many areas that no other provider will. We do this because it is the best thing for the customers who live in those areas. The vast majority of these build-outs were done with no government funding whatsoever,” commented Elizabeth Bowles, president at WISPA. “CenturyLink is doing this so they can get subsidies in areas where there is already service – areas where they know there is a market because WISPs built it without federal support. They do this rather than build at their own expense. Any government funds for broadband should be used as they were intended, which is to build in areas that are truly unserved.”

In December 2011, WISPA wrote a letter to the Senate leadership in which it emphasized the need for Congress to preserve unlicensed spectrum for fixed wireless broadband use. WISPA also explained that the FCC should have sufficient flexibility to implement the re-packing of the TV bands and to make other spectrum available without competitive bidding.


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Edited by Braden Becker
 
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