On Sunday, T-Mobile announced it will acquire Sprint in a blockbuster telecommunications deal with dramatic implications for broadband deployment in rural America. The company CEO’s are selling the deal as a win for rural America, and argue the newly-formed company will bring more jobs and more broadband to less-populated regions.
Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is planning to release new spectrum licensing rules that will impact the rural broadband landscape. New licensing rules are an opportunity for the FCC to give rural communities more self-determination when it comes to broadband deployment. Rural providers are lobbying the FCC to adopt a spectrum policy that will lower barriers to entry for small local broadband players in the market place. The nationwide providers (Verizon and AT&T) are able to function as a monopoly in many rural areas, and have little incentive to increase access for rural consumers. These monopolies benefit from FCC spectrum regulations that benefit large carriers. A coalition of rural providers, the Wireless Internet Service Providers, recently sent a letter to the FCC urging the agency to adopt spectrum policy that promotes more competition for providers in rural America.