The Wireless Internet Service Providors Association (WISPA) has expressed support for the apparent agreement by the White House and Congressional Democrats to work on a $2 trillion legislative package to rebuild and improve America’s crumbling infrastructure. WISPA believes that meaningful access to new spectrum must play an important role in the as-of-yet unwritten legislative package, and that wireless internet service providers (WISPs) should have the same access to infrastructure and deployment opportunities.
Broadband infrastructure has many components, such as cabling, routing electronics and the other horizontal and vertical structures that help it run. Wireless broadband depends on much the same infrastructure, but with one important difference – it also needs spectrum as the “pipe” to deliver the Internet to our homes and businesses. WISPA represents over 800 small Internet providers that provide “fixed wireless” broadband services to approximately four million Americans, many of whom reside in unserved and underserved rural areas. Those WISPs need the infrastructure of spectrum, and policies which ensure its effective use, to bridge the digital divide.
While cost is always a concern for any legislation, the good news here is, for wireless broadband, taxpayers would not bear the burden. Fallow or underutilized spectrum can be identified expeditiously. And advances in technology mean that it can be effectively shared among many parties, boosting the utility and return of this valuable, finite infrastructure for the American people.
“Infrastructure legislation represents an important opportunity to include all Americans in our digital economy,” noted Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA. “Congress can do the right thing and recognize that spectrum is infrastructure, allowing innovative providers to access that resource and bring new services to the unserved and competition everywhere.” He added, “Modernizing our communications landscape through better spectrum allocation, a level playing field for all providers, and recognition of the unique needs of small business would be a huge win for all Americans, especially those in hard to reach communities. We hope Congress takes this opportunity, which will yield benefits for decades to come.”