July 19, 2012 12:17 ET

WISPA Opposes More Funding for CenturyLink Overbuild

COTTONWOOD, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 19, 2012) -  In an FCC filing last week, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) strongly opposed CenturyLink's request that the FCC waive its rules to enable CenturyLink to receive up to $32.6 million in additional Connect America Fund (CAF) subsidies to deliver broadband service to areas where fixed wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) already provide broadband service.

In its filing, WISPA agreed with the FCC's earlier decisions that the National Broadband Map should be used to determine those areas "served" by broadband and which areas are not "served." WISPA rejected CenturyLink's theories that some areas shown as "served" by WISPs are in fact "unserved." WISPA also pointed out that CenturyLink could not simply ignore previous FCC decisions and substitute its own self-serving standards for what constitutes "broadband" for purposes of Phase I of the CAF subsidy program.

As broadband providers, WISPs are not eligible for federal CAF subsidies, and must fund their capital and operating costs through self-financing and private investment to serve many rural and remote areas of the country. In some cases, including areas where WISPs compete with CenturyLink, WISPs actually deliver faster broadband service for less money than CenturyLink's broadband service, as explained in the opposition filed by Montana Internet Corporation.

Said Richard Harnish, WISPA's Executive Director, "We find it hard to believe that a company like CenturyLink that gets millions of dollars in federal support now wants more free money to overbuild unsubsidized rural broadband networks that WISPs already successfully operate. To do this, CenturyLink has attempted to discredit the taxpayer-funded National Broadband Map and invent its own standards in an effort to show that they should receive more than $30 million in additional subsidies. Our strong opposition reflects WISPA's view that CenturyLink's arguments are factually and technically flawed. We thank the other associations, state agencies and WISPs that support our views."

"WISPA will keep fighting to stop government subsidies from going to the nation's largest telephone companies who want to perpetuate the unfair advantage that they have been enjoying to compete against small, community-based, job-providing WISP businesses," said Elizabeth Bowles, WISPA's President. "We ask the FCC to do the right thing and reject CenturyLink's preposterous claims."


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