Congress should provide technological flexibility in broadband infrastructure legislation, given the role wireless broadband connectivity should play in the infrastructure legislation the chamber has under consideration. That is what Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, told an audience as the featured speaker at the Media Institute’s Communications Forum luncheon today. A membership organization, WIA represents businesses that build, own and operate U.S. wireless infrastructure.
In expressing the need for flexibility, Adelstein said he drew upon his experience overseeing the Rural Utilities Service agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Obama-Biden administration and the lessons learned when distributing broadband funding during the Recovery Act.
“The bipartisan Senate group is charting a course that will get broadband deployed quicker and bring mobility along with high speeds to rural America, a course that will win the race to 5G,” Adelstein said. “A course that will create millions of jobs and over a trillion dollars in economic development. Congress and the administration are now positioned to enact a program that would achieve its goals more easily than if it depended on a single technology. By providing needed flexibility, the bipartisan agreement will be more likely to garner qualified applications for more unserved areas.”
The association executive said that as wireless connectivity is built to deliver service more quickly, it provides mobility, it serves public safety, it fights climate change and it is resilient when disaster strikes. Adelstein said that the bipartisan group wants to address these urgent needs by letting wireless compete for funding.
“The lesson of the Recovery Act is that Congress can’t assume funding with narrow strictures will achieve its vision,” Adelstein said. “I learned as an administrator that the agency doesn’t choose who applies. Agencies can only consider what comes through their door, and should only fund those operators that are not only willing, but able to demonstrate a plan that is both financially and technically feasible.”