Rural Americans Hurt by New FCC Rule

Posted: Nov 05, 2017 12:01 AM
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Donald J. Trump spoke to rural voters in a way that launched him into the presidency. His soaring rhetoric and no-nonsense promises to stand up against corruption were exactly what his constituents voted for.

Say it ain’t so, but now, his own Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pushing a rule that will hurt the very voters who put him in the White House. The swamp has overtaken the FCC and President Trump’s Make America Great Again motto is in jeopardy.

Will the Trump Administration stand up to the big mobile carriers or will it cave just like every Administration before it?

Many Trump supporting rural voters are upset that they are going to get wronged by a new FCC rule that will make it harder for rural consumers and providers to receive broadband services. This idea is being pushed by lobbying interests with deep pockets for big corporate mobile carrier providers in a way that helps them buy up spectrum for the profitable urban areas to the detriment of rural areas. This is not what Trump supporting rural Americans voted for.

The FCC adopted a rule a few years ago that was intended to stimulate investment in rural broadband networks. These are now at risk after a 4 to 1 vote to redraft the rules at the behest of mobile carriers. It is a bit complicated, but the rules for 3.5 GHz “Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS)” spectrum band has been changed at the urging and lobbying of the mobile industry that massive geographical areas known as PEA’s, add an undefined “renewal expectancy” and extending license terms from 3 to 10 years. These three new changes hurt the small rural providers. These new proposed rules would benefit the large mobile carriers because it would preclude independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from using this spectrum for rural areas.

The power lies in the current FCC Commissioners to do what’s right by rural America. The Commissioners are Ajit Pai (Chairman), Mignon Clyburn, Michael O’Reilly, Brendan Carr and Jessica Rosenworcel. They should come together and make this rule more balanced between the needs of rural consumers and the big mobile carrier industry.

This is a battle between rural America versus the big corporate interests in the mobile carrier industry. There are about 23 million rural Americans who lack basic fixed broadband service in their homes. They are angry at the FCC decision on delaying the deployment of broadband in their rural communities to prioritizes the needs of the well-heeled mobile industry.These are the same core Trump supporters who the president will need if he wants a second term in office.

Trump’s idea of draining the swamp was powerful imagery. The FCC is at the center of those croc-infested waters as the FCC has become a vehicle for special interests to get what they want. This valuable transfer of wealth from the little guys to the big mobile carriers is cronyism at its worst. The FCC should not be allowed to be used for competitive advantage.

The current rules don’t need to be changed. The status quo is fair and existing rules are flexible enough to enable many different business models. small rural ISP’s, National wire carriers, small mobile providers, industrial companies, universities, sports arenas, building managers and others are relying on the current rules. The FCC should not change them at all, and if they do the signal will be loud and clear...the Trump Administration has no intention of draining the swamp…they’re just becoming part of it.

Trump supporting voters in rural areas are hoping and watching to see what Trump's FCC will do. This a fantastic opportunity for the Administration to step in and make sure that the swamp does not win again.