December 20, 2018

Manchin Lifts Hold on FCC Nominee After Securing Assurances for Mobile Broadband Funding for West Virginia

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) lifted his hold on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nominee Brendan Carr after receiving a firm commitment from Chairman Ajit Pai that the FCC’s Mobility Fund Phase II program would be moving forward as quickly as possible with a provision that will ensure this critical $4.5 billion for mobile broadband funding is targeted toward areas like West Virginia that face higher deployment costs due to challenging topography.  The Mobility Fund Phase II will make up to $4.53 billion in support available over 10 years to primarily rural areas that lack unsubsidized 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service.

Senator Manchin placed the hold on Carr’s nomination last week following the FCC’s announcement that they were putting the Mobility Fund Phase II on hold indefinitely to investigate reports that the broadband connectivity maps that broadband providers submitted to the FCC were inaccurate, something that Senator Manchin has said from the beginning. 

In a letter, Pai assured Senator Manchin that the investigation will be completed in a “thorough, yet expeditious” manner and that the reverse auction to distribute the $4.5 billion will include a terrain factor, something Senator Manchin fought for over the past three years so that places like West Virginia that are the hardest and most expensive to serve will have a fair chance at receiving this money. Earlier this year, Senator Manchin’s provision encouraging the FCC to take this action was adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee with bipartisan support.  

Chairman Pai said in part: “I have publicly committed to ensuring a terrain factor is included because it is essential to ensure that places like West Virginia that are well known for challenging and rugged terrain will receive additional support. This way, we will ensure that the auction will not prioritize less expensive networks serving flatter terrain and will level the playing field for all bidders.”

“I am pleased that I was able to secure this commitment from Chairman Pai on Mobility Fund Phase II,” Senator Manchin said. “This mobile broadband funding is critical and will bring us one step closer to bridging the digital divide in West Virginia.  All Americans, no matter their area code, deserve to have access to high speed, reliable internet service, and I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Pai and Commissioner Carr to make this a reality” 

To read Chairman Pai’s letter to Senator Manchin click here