FCC Votes to Advance Proposed Rulemaking to Deploy 5G Services to Rural America

April 23, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today released the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to advance a notice of proposed rulemaking on the 5G Fund. The 5G Fund would make $9 billion available to deploy 5G services to rural America. 

“The 5G Fund is great news for the millions of Americans living and working in rural and underserved communities who do not have access to a reliable mobile broadband connection,” said Wicker. “However, it is important to distribute funding based on accurate data to ensure underserved areas are not misrepresented. I am working with my colleagues to make sure the Commission has the resources needed to implement the bipartisan Broadband DATA Act and appropriately award funds based on reliable coverage maps.”

The 5G Fund would replace the planned Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) reverse auction, which would have provided support for mobile broadband service in underserved areas. Wicker raised concerns about that program, noting that inaccurate broadband maps may have led to misallocated funding instead of targeting the rural areas most in need of broadband. In March, Wicker along with Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Todd Young, R-Ind., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging the Commission to distribute the $9 billion 5G Fund based on accurate data to ensure support is appropriately awarded based on reliable coverage maps.

In June 2019, Wicker and Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced S. 1822, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. On March 23, President Donald Trump signed the Broadband DATA Act into law. The legislation will improve the accuracy of the FCC’s broadband availability maps by strengthening the process by which broadband data is collected.  

The Commerce Committee exercises jurisdiction over the FCC.