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E&C Leaders Raise Questions Regarding Concerning Lack of Detail in FCC’s Broadband Announcement

Dec 19, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-OH) sent a letter today to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai in response to the FCC’s recent announcement that the Mobility Fund Phase II (MF II) will be replaced with a new 5G Fund. 

“[T]he recently announced 5G Fund must be allocated responsibly.  The way that this fund is structured can make the difference between connecting unserved and underserved Americans or deepening the digital divide,” the Committee leaders wrote to Pai.  “Just this week, the House passed legislation to improve broadband mapping and the Senate has as well.  This bipartisan, bicameral support clearly shows that the Commission must collect better data before moving forward on any fund."

The Committee leaders also wrote the letter in response to an FCC staff report on the investigation into the MF II coverage maps.  The report confirmed the concern frequently raised by bipartisan Members of Congress that data collected for the MF II does not produce a reliable coverage map.  The Committee leaders urged Chairman Pai to ensure that this new $9 billion 5G Fund is allocated responsibly.

“You have noted the need to focus funds to ‘support the networks of tomorrow,’ yet today’s services remain unavailable for too many Americans.   This is unacceptable, and the design and execution of any new fund must be carefully constructed to succeed where MF II failed,” the Committee leaders continued.  “While the new fund will replace MF II, the goals of MF II remain unmet.  As you move forward, it is critical that areas that lack 4G LTE coverage—or any connectivity—are not left behind in a rush to advance well intended efforts to deploy 5G.”

Pallone, Walden, Doyle and Latta are seeking the following information on the Commission’s plan for this new 5G fund by January 17, 2020:

  • What safeguards will the Commission put in place to ensure that areas eligible for support are based on reliable coverage data?
  • How will the Commission determine which services are eligible for support?
  • What performance benchmarks will you require to qualify for support?
  • What steps will the Commission take to ensure that new services are sufficiently secure?

To read the letter, click HERE.