FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn said she is “not happy” about the lack of universal mobile broadband service across the US, insisting that “far too many people in rural America” have been denied access for too long.
Speaking in the day two keynote at the US Competitive Carriers Association’s (CCA) annual convention, Clyburn called for the adoption of a permanent mobility fund in the country, which she believes will address some of the problems facing a large group of US consumers that still lack access to internet services.
She said the commission decided on establishing such a fund in 2011, before “funding froze at 60 per cent of 2011 support levels”.
“Now is the time for the commission to ensure that funding to mobile providers extracts the most value for each dollar of each universal fund spent,” Clyburn said. “Now is the time for consumers in those underserved areas to have what most of us take for granted.”
Clyburn revealed the CCA, which represents the interests of more than 100 small wireless providers in the US, had called on the FCC to increase funding to providers, “so that the mobility fund could reflect the true state of mobile broadband deployment, which is far more limited than the commission assumes, and doesn’t represent the essential nature of mobile broadband”.
During the speech, Clyburn cited a study that suggested almost 10 per cent of all Americans use only their mobile phones to access the internet. She said the evolution of the industry meant the same rules should now be applied to both fixed and mobile services.
“Users of mobile services should no longer be relegated to a second class mobile experience. They need and deserve a robust experience on par with their wireless peers,” she said.
Clyburn’s FCC colleague, commissioner Michael O’Reilly, who opened CCA’s annual meet up with a keynote of his own on day one of the event, echoed Clyburn’s views on underserved areas, and insisted infrastructure deployment was becoming ever more essential.
“In the near term, wireless providers must install thousands of new facilities to provide service, meet capacity needs, relieve congestion and expand coverage areas,” he said. “This will also help smaller providers in bringing connectivity to underserved areas, as they will also benefit from facility sharing.”