Study: Mandated interoperability, data roaming in 700 MHz key to saving rural jobs

The Rural Cellular Association (RCA) has been waiting 18 months for the FCC to make a ruling on mandatory 700 MHz interoperability and data roaming requirements, and it is bolstering its argument with a new report that claims some 38,500 jobs could be created and another 78,500 saved in rural areas if wireless broadband were deployed in the 700 MHz band using equipment that is interoperable with all flavors of 700 MHz.

The new report from telecom economist Raul Katz, president of Telecom Advisory Services and adjunct professor of finance and economics with Columbia University Business School, who said jobs wold be impacted if wireless broadband were fully deployed in just the 19 states that have the lowest broadband deployment rates.

For instance, wireless broadband can assist small retailers in rural areas reach larger markets to obtain better prices. By helping these players survive, jobs are saved, Katz said.

The new report studied the impact that broadband has had on job growth and retention in three states: Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Using those states, the researchers forecast what impact the full deployment of wireless broadband could have on 19 states with the lowest deployments of broadband services. The researchers based their findings on "the historical impact that broadband has had" in these areas.

Key requirements are 700 MHz interoperability and roaming. Those two pieces are not mandated in the 700 MHz band, and rural operators claim Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) are locking smaller players out by mandating equipment from their suppliers that only works in their particular flavors of 700 MHz. The matter is before the FCC.

"Roaming is very important," said Katz. The market would see an "erosion of the potential network effects" and this "would act as a barrier to entry" into the 700 MHz market, he added.

For more:
- see this Connected Planet article

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