Rural Advocates Call for Full Commission to Adopt Rulemaking to Clear Regulatory Barriers to Broadband Innovation
Last week, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai introduced a rulemaking proposal that would clear regulatory barriers to TV white space (TVWS) technology as a critical tool to help eliminate the digital divide. This proposed rulemaking would help maximize spectrum resources in the fight against the digital divide and enhance the scale and pace of broadband deployments in rural America.
Since the announcement, a wide-array of voices have applauded Chairman Pai’s proposal and called on the full commission to adopt the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) during its next open meeting on February 28th.
The broad-based support for the TVWS NPRM includes advocates for broadband connectivity, rural communities, small business, spectrum innovation, telehealth and technology education as well as internet service providers (ISPs), leading American innovators and industries impacted by the digital divide.
Here are what broadband and spectrum advocates are saying about Chairman Pai’s TVWS NPRM proposal:
“We applaud Chairman Pai for his leadership on this rulemaking which can help to unleash the full potential of TV white space technology as a critical tool to help bridge the digital divide,” Cullen said. “We encourage the full Commission to adopt this Notice at its next open meeting on February 28 and move swiftly to adopt rules in 2020 clearing regulatory barriers to innovation and maximize available spectrum resources to help close the broadband gap.” (Connect Americans Now, Connect Americans Now (CAN) Applauds FCC Chairman Pai for Advancing the TV White Space Rulemaking, 2/5/20)
“Chairman @AjitPaiFCC of the @FCC has proposed a movement to update current #TVWS regulations! The DSA has long-supported this advancement, which will facilitate #spectrum sharing for wider #connectivity, especially in underserved areas. Find out more: http://bit.ly/2S2sifq” (Twitter, 2/7/20)
“Clearing regulatory barriers to innovative solutions like TV white space technology can help bridge the #digitaldivide. @AjitPaiFCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released today is a welcome step for rural America that should be adopted on 2/28.” (Twitter, 2/5/20)
“By proposing to remove barriers to TVWS broadband deployment, Chairman Pai is empowering anchor institutions to address the digital divide and connect their users where they are,” said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition. “School districts in Halifax County and Charlotte County, Virginia are already using TVWS technology to provide internet service to underserved students so that they can do their homework. This proposal could open the door for even more anchors to do the same.” (SHLB, SHLB Welcomes Chairman Pai’s Proposal To Promote TV White Spaces Use, 2/5/20)
“Companies and communities around the country — and the world — are making the unused TV spectrum available on an unlicensed basis to deliver super-fast broadband connections and the U.S. can soon join them. WifiForward commends the Chairman for his move to make the most efficient use of our spectrum resources for public benefit.” (WiFi Forward, WifiForward Statement In Response To FCC Chairman Pai’s NPRM On TV White Spaces, 2/5/20)
Here are what advocates for rural communities are saying:
“Funding alone cannot get the job done,” Huber said. “While it takes the billions of dollars in investments to ensure that every American has equal access broadband, additional moves like that to allow unused TV channel bands and other spectrum not in use by other services are also a vital component. This proposal would allow for fixed white space devices that would take signals greater distances and better carry signal through various obstacles, a huge move to reduce two of the most vexing pieces of the broadband expansion puzzle for rural Americans – the varied landscape and distance between consumers.” (National Grange, Grange Hails White Space Proposal As Necessary Step Forward To Bridging Digital Divide, 2/5/20)
Here are what telehealth advocates are saying:
“We commend @FCC &Chairman @AjitPaiFCC for today’s #TVWS NPRM &the commitment to eliminating #digitaldivide. We implore the full commission to adopt the proposed rulemaking &help underserved communities access care when &where they need it. #ruralhealth https://hubs.ly/H0mVGHc0” (Twitter, 2/5/20)
Here are what technology educators are saying:
“@CoSN applauds @AjitPaiFCC for his leadership on this rulemaking which can help to unleash the full potential of TV white space technology as a critical tool to help bridge the #digitaldivide #edtech @keithkrueger @s_bearden http://ow.ly/E9QI50yeEgL” (Twitter, 2/5/20)
Here are what internet service providers (ISPs) are saying:
“.@FCC has unveiled a new proposal to update TV White Space Rules to Expand Connectivity For Rural Americans. Creative approaches to maximize unused #spectrum is smart public policy. #broadband https://t.co/CTez5FQaDe?amp=1” (Twitter, 2/6/20)
“Rise Broadband appreciates both the @FCC & @AjitPaiFCC for seeking to explore the modification of #TVWS rules. This will enable more broadband services to reach underserved areas and close the digital divide!” (Twitter, 2/7/20)
“WISPA’s Louis Peraertz: ‘Better TVWS services will provide another tool in the quiver of rural providers, such as our WISP members, who are looking for all the spectrum they can access to grow their small, local companies and help close the rural divide.’” (Twitter, 2/6/20)
Here are what American innovators and voices in technology are saying:
“We applaud the FCC for its draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on this positive use of the TVWS spectrum as an option for the 20 million Americans who lack access to broadband connectivity. If adopted, the proposal will take a significant step toward resolving outstanding issues impeding TVWS technology such as allowing connectivity to mobile platforms, narrowband applications such as sensor-driven smart agriculture, and acceptable power levels in less congested areas. “Our members’ innovative applications and services—from smart agriculture to connected health— require the high speed, reliable broadband connections TVWS can provide to their businesses and customers.” (ACT: The App Association, The App Association Statement Regarding FCC’s Further Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking On TV White Spaces, 2/5/20)
“This sounds like great news–looking forward to seeing the details.TV white spaces are a real opportunity to improve rural access. ITIF has long supported rule tweaks that would hopefully enable more productive use of TV white spaces.” (Twitter, 2/5/20)
“Thank you @FCC and @AjitPaiFCC for your work on TV white space technology and rural broadband. Today’s notice is an important step forward towards bringing broadband to more people in rural America.#Airband” (Twitter, 2/5/20)
“The @FCC’s move on TV White Spaces marks a big step forward to improving broadband access in rural areas. Statement from @MCalabreseNAF below.” (Twitter, 2/5/20)
“TV White Space will be important to connecting much of rural Louisiana. We applaud the @FCC for working to update their regulations to more people in the state can get connected.” (Twitter, 2/6/20)
“Thank you, @AjitPaiFCC, for this important step toward connecting more Americans. We urge @FCC to support this plan to use #TVWhiteSpace to close the #DigitalDivide” (Twitter 2/5/20)
Here are what voices representing American small businesses and industries impacted by the digital divide are saying:
“The Midwest Food Products Association (MWFPA) expressed gratification at the news that Federal Communications (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed increasing options for fixed and mobile broadband deployments using vacant TV broadcast spectrum, commonly known as TV white spaces MWFPA President Jason Culotta said ‘Rural infrastructure investments, like expanding broadband internet access, could improve economic performance in addition to contributing to quality of life and job opportunities through more robust delivery of education, healthcare, public safety, and other services. We are gratified that Chairman Pai has decided to move ahead in improving the use of unlicensed spectrum to provide broadband service to rural areas.’” (Midwest Food Products Association, Food Manufacturers Gratified by FCC Chairman’s Move to Expand Connectivity for Rural Americans, 2/5/20)
“There are folks in Washington who talk about what they are going to do, and those who do. More action from @AjitPaiFCC to bring broadband to #rural #smallbiz by updating TV white space rules – a move supported by @SBECouncil. Thank you Mr. Chairman!” (Twitter, 2/5/20)
The widespread support for Chairman Pai’s proposed rulemaking to clear regulatory barriers to TVWS demonstrates Americans want policymakers in Washington to pursue an all-of-the-above approach to eliminating the digital divide. This kind of approach, that supports hybrid network deployments and maximizes spectrum resources, will help more farmers realize the promise of precision agriculture tools, help more seniors and patients take advantage of telemedicine solutions, reduce the impact of the homework gap that leaves too many rural students behind and increase economic opportunity in thousands of communities.
Chairman Pai’s fellow commissioners must seize the opportunity to help deliver broadband to unserved Americans by adopting this rulemaking later this month.