WISPA claps back at fixed-wireless critics in RDOF dispute

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) doesn’t appreciate all the scorn being heaped on fixed wireless access (FWA) technology, which is coming from some groups that didn’t win as much Rural Digital Opportunity Funds (RDOF) as they had hoped.

Yesterday, WISPA filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), responding to what it calls “unwarranted criticism leveled at certain winners of the RDOF Phase I auction, and the RDOF process as a whole.”

WISPA specifically takes exception to a filing made by NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, which implies that FWA networks cannot deliver gigabit speeds.

WISPA says that while the possible speed of a wireless link depends on many factors, especially the quality of the path, the recent availability of millimeter-wave systems and equipment, especially on the unlicensed 60 GHz band, and the pending availability of standard-power devices on the 6 GHz band, make gigabit download wireless speeds a realistic option in many places.

“WISPs operate across a range of frequencies, from TV White Space up through the millimeter wave bands, and while not all of these spectrum bands are capable of delivering gigabit services, that does not rule out provision of such services in many targeted areas,” states WISPA.

NTCA is not the only organization complaining about FWA technology providers who won RDOF funding.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) also joined with NTCA to file a white paper on February 1, asking the FCC to apply heightened scrutiny to long-form applications from fixed wireless providers who submitted “controversial” and “lower than anticipated” winning bids in the RDOF Phase I auction.

NRECA’s CEO Jim Matheson recently said, “A number of fixed wireless providers have pledged to deliver gigabit speeds, and there are a number of reasonable concerns about the viability of claims that they can deliver those speeds in that category.”

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The NTCA and NRECA would like the FCC to take a long, hard look at the long-form applications, which RDOF winners have recently filed.

WISPA said, “NTCA’s proposal would provide yet another opportunity for unsuccessful applicants to challenge the Commission’s decision to authorize support. The Commission will then need to consider the objections – whether credible or not – in potentially hundreds of cases. NTCA’s proposals will result in months and months of delays.”