A new report by Diane Smith, CEO and founder of American Rural and Mobile Future advisor, examines the state of rural wireless network deployment and competition with an eye toward how federal spectrum policies can—and cannot— advance our innovation economy.
The report debunks the assumption that access to low-band spectrum is a primary contributing factor for the lack of buildout in rural areas. It also explains that setting auction rules that limit participation by carriers that have built infrastructure in and serve rural areas will not lead others to invest in rural America.
A close examination of the facts and ongoing economics surrounding rural broadband deployment shows that while some carriers have consistently invested in mobile infrastructure in rural areas, Sprint and T-Mobile, who already have significant spectrum holdings (average of 84 MHz for Sprint and 32 MHz for T-Mobile) in the five rural states examined, have simply chosen not to make similar investments or to deploy any voice or data service in more than 75% of the counties in those states. The paper concludes that spectrum set asides are not the solution to expanding rural broadband deployment.