Republican Senators Urge NTIA to Redefine Reliable Broadband, Fixed Wireless Access Opportunities at Stake

Coverage Type: 

Seven US senators sent a letter to Alan Davidson, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, urging NTIA to revise its definition of reliable broadband for the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. In establishing rules for the program, NTIA omitted fixed wireless service that relies totally on unlicensed spectrum for last mile connectivity from its definition of reliable service – a decision that impacts the BEAD program in two ways. It makes fixed wireless access (FWA) deployments using unlicensed spectrum ineligible for funding. And it makes areas that have high-speed broadband eligible for overbuilds if the only high-speed broadband available is FWA that relies on unlicensed spectrum. Regarding the possibility of allowing funding for FWA using unlicensed spectrum, the senators argued that “It is important that NTIA allow all broadband providers and technology to compete in order to ensure that we finally close the digital divide.” Regarding the eligibility of areas already served by unlicensed high-speed fixed wireless, the senators said “NTIA runs the risk of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars by duplicating services in areas that already have access to speeds well above 23/5 Mbps, 100/20 Mbps or even higher, instead of prioritizing rural communities that are truly unserved.” The senators signing the letter are Sens Steve Daines (R-MT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-WY), Cynthis Lummis (R-WY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-TX).

Senators Urge NTIA to Redefine Reliable Broadband, FWA Opportunities at Stake