Public Service Communications' Bond Testifies Before House Committee
Arlington, Va., October 10, 2007 - Small businesses have the incentive and expertise to provide broadband in rural America, according to testimony by Kelly Bond, President of Public Service Communications (Reynolds, Ga.) and chairman of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association`s (NTCA) wireless committee. Bond testified before the House Committee on Small Business, on behalf of NTCA and the Rural Telecommunications Group (RTG).
In testimony at the hearing, "Examining the Impact of the 700 MHZ Spectrum Auction on Small Business," Bond told the committee that the upcoming 700 MHZ auction represents a tremendous opportunity for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help deliver broadband capabilities to all areas of the nation - not just the densely populated and profitable areas.
While pointing to the 700 MHZ spectrum as the best vehicle for delivering broadband services to high-cost rural regions, Bond indicated that the likely winners of this spectrum are the large, nationwide telecommunications carriers that "will once again overlook rural towns and their outlying areas, instead concentrating on the most profitable, highly populated pockets of their vast license areas."Bond testified that if a small telecommunications carrier is able to successfully bid on 700 MHZ spectrum, it will want to provide service and start making a return on its investment as soon as possible. "Unless small, rural businesses are able to acquire 700 MHz spectrum.this incredible opportunity to encourage the deployment of broadband service to rural areas will be lost," Bond testified.
In his testimony, Bond said the FCC`s current plan for auctioning and licensing the 700 MHZ bands presents only limited opportunities for small businesses to participate.He noted several changes the FCC should make to provide meaningful opportunities for small businesses to participate in the 700 MHZ auction process and bring broadband opportunities to rural Americans, including:
- licensing the spectrum based on smaller license areas rather than huge regional areas,
- changing the current construction requirements for the C block from population-based benchmarks to geographic-based benchmarks
- along with Congress, the FCC should work to ensure that customers of small carriers are able to roam on the networks to be built by the nationwide carriers.
In his testimony, Bond also referred to Regulatory Flexibility Act and the fact that rural carriers need less burdensome regulations than those designed to apply to much larger entities, noting that "instead of discouraging small businesses, the FCC should carefully study the impact of its regulations on small businesses and should ensure its rules and policies encourage such businesses to deploy broadband services."
In conclusion, Bond told the committee that his company, Public Service-like its fellow members of NTCA and RTG-is entrepreneurial in its approach to deploying whatever technology it takes to ensure that its customers have state of the art services that are at least comparable, if not superior to those available anywhere else in the nation.
"Ensuring that rural carriers can get a hold of 700 MHZ spectrum will ensure that rural carriers are able to continue their excellent record of service in terms of rapidly increasing the number of rural citizens with broadband access, and will also ensure that the citizens will have access to mobile broadband applications," Bond said.
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing more than 560 locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies throughout rural and small-town America. NTCA provides its members with legislative, regulatory and industry representation; meetings; publications and educational programs; and an array of employee benefit programs. Visit us at www.ntca.org.
Rural Telecommunications Group is dedicated to promoting wireless opportunities for rural telecommunications companies through advocacy and education in a manner that best represents the interests of its membership. RTG`s members have joined together to speed the delivery of new, efficient, and innovative telecommunications technologies to the populations of remote and underserved sections of the country. RTG`s members provide wireless telecommunications services, such as cellular telephone service and Personal Communications Services, among others, to their subscribers. RTG`s members are small businesses serving or seeking to serve secondary, tertiary, and rural markets. RTG`s members are comprised of both independent wireless carriers and wireless carriers that are affiliated with rural telephone companies.