Friday, December 6, 2019

House Heaps Criticism on Pai for Rural 5G Plans

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief House Commerce Committee members had pointed questions for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Thursday during an oversight hearing. Pai’s news Wednesday of the agency’s plans to create a $9 billion 5G rural fund generated a lot of questions about where that money would come from. Ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR) admonished the Chairman to give lawmakers, “a little more notice and communication” on future announcements.

Several lawmakers also questioned the agency’s decision not to prosecute carriers (such as Verizon, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular) for apparently giving false broadband coverage data to the FCC. Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) said the Commission’s “bungled” process means rural residents will wait even longer to get broadband.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) said: “Many people buy their phones based on those [coverage] maps. Why in the world would they not be held accountable?”

Pai replied, “The maps we had were simply inaccurate. That’s why we chose to close down the process.” Earlier this week, agency officials told reporters the staff felt the carriers didn’t deliberately provide bad 4G data. Continue Reading

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