Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA, commenting on the White House’s broadband infrastructure plan last week, said WISPA supports accessible and affordable broadband for all Americans, but has problems with parts of the White House’s broadband infrastructure plan.
“Access to affordable broadband is something no American should be without,” Aiken said. “Having reliable and affordable broadband is key to creating of well-paying jobs, the spurring of robust economic growth, maintaining global leadership, as well as other important societal benefits – such as helping families stay connected and safe, kids well-schooled, remote work up and running, and community institutions open and available to all. In the hardest to reach areas of the country, community-based providers bring high-speed affordable broadband solutions to 7 million Americans, often through fixed wireless connectivity.”
However, Aiken also that (last week) “the White House (re)released state fact sheets on its pending infrastructure and competitiveness plan. But the White House’s fact sheets declare those 7 million Americans unserved. This is factually wrong, and does those consumers a disservice.
“Prairie Hills Wireless, a community-based fixed wireless provider, offers 200/100 Mbps service to its almost 2,000 customers. Those customers are deemed unserved. Starry [a high-speed home internet service] provides affordable fixed wireless service at 200 Mbps as a competitive option in low-income urban and suburban communities. Those communities are deemed without a competitor. These are just two of the 2,800 small, community-based providers, and a few thousand of the 7 million Americans, who are left out of the picture.”
Aiken continued: “In order to close the digital divide, we need all hands and all technologies on deck. Our members deploy a variety of technologies to bridge that divide. But leaving viable options off the table will hurt thousands of small businesses and the consumers those small businesses serve. We urge the Administration to fix its data. As we know too well, bad data makes bad policy. Working together, using the best data and all workable options, we can deliver world-class connectivity to all Americans without harming the small businesses that serve them with broadband.”