FCC chair Ajit Pai said he is setting the regulatory wheels in motion to secure a 90-day extension of the challenge window for the map the FCC will use to allocate more than $4.5 billion in mobile broadband subsidies.
In a May 30 letter to Wicker, Pai signaled that was part of his commitment to ensure the map would be high-quality, a map with its accuracy improved by the challenge process.
The FCC put out the broadband map of areas eligible for Mobility Fund Phase II money over the next decade as part of its move to redirect wireless carrier subsidies where private capital was already at work for, as Pai put it, "something far more useful: bringing 4G LTE service to rural Americans who don’t have it today.
Sen. Wicker had led a bipartisan group of senators who asked Tuesday (May 29) for the extension, saying the map as the FCC issued it featured areas in their home states that showed service while the facts on the ground suggested otherwise.
Pai signaled in his letter to Wicker that making sure the facts on the ground were the ones on the map was why the FCC had ensured that state, local and tribal governments, not just carriers, could challenge the map.
Pai said he supported extending the window by 90 days and had directed his Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force to figure out how to make that happen.
"By lengthening the period during which challenges can be submitted," he said, "challengers will have the opportunity to conduct additional tests, which in turn means a more accurate map for carrying out the Mobility Fund Phase II auction."