House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) Wednesday urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to give tribes more time to apply for broadband licenses in the 2.5 GHz Band.
“We are concerned that the FCC’s failure to provide adequate time for tribes to take full advantage of the 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window means fewer tribes will be connected to lifesaving internet service,” Pallone and Doyle wrote in a letter. “The coronavirus has underscored that the digital divide is a deadly chasm, but the FCC can help address this issue.”
The lawmakers noted tribes have been hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, and said “high-speed internet service helps governments better succeed when it comes to public health interventions.” They called the Rural Tribal Priority Window one important remedy to the digital divide for Indian Country, but cautioned that “without more time, it will not succeed.”
Both Committee leaders acknowledged the agency has provided a 30-day deadline extension, but pointed out that tribal leaders have implored the Commission to implement a 180-day postponement.
“That is why we urge you now to extend the tribal priority window by an additional 150 days beyond the new deadline you have set,” Pallone and Doyle continued. “If you truly intend for tribes to take full advantage of the priority window despite the challenges the pandemic presents, you must give them more time to apply.”
The Committee leaders requested a response from FCC Chairman Pai by August 28.
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