Klobuchar bill aims to broaden wireless access for rural areas

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 - The Rural Broadband Association is giving its support to a bill introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Min., that would provide a program for large wireless carriers to make unused spectrum available for rural carriers. 

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The association's CEO, Shirley Bloomfield, said the Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act of 2013 would ensure that unused spectrum be put to use in rural areas. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Under the bill, the Federal Communications Commission would provide a program under which a carrier can choose to partition its license in order to make unused spectrum available to small carriers - those with 1,500 employees or fewer - or carriers serving a rural area. A carrier that partitions its license under the program receives a three-year extension of its license.

 “The wireless market is incredibly consolidated, with two carriers already holding 78 percent of the country's low-frequency, broadband-capable spectrum and accounting for more than 80 percent of wireless industry revenues,” Bloomfield said.

She said licensing spectrum according to small geographic areas would allow the small carriers that comprise NTCA's membership to bid for the territory they are interested in serving, “and ensure rural areas are not ignored when it comes time to deploy services.”

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