Wave Wireless is a locally owned and operated home Internet provider in Parsons, Kansas, where Pai grew up.Last year, Pai met with Wave's owner and wrote in a tweet that Wave is "connecting Parsons (including my parents) & smaller towns nearby."Pai's primary focus as FCC chairman has been removing or changing regulations in order to encourage ISPs to invest in their networks.Crucially, the FCC under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler decided to let operators buy three-year Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in individual census tracts, small areas with between 1,200 and 8,000 people each.T-Mobile and other companies asked the FCC to change the licensing areas from census tracts to Partial Economic Areas (PEAs), which are much larger.In their letter to the FCC yesterday, Wave Wireless and the other small providers wrote:
They're part of a solution to a critical problem facing the US -- delivering broadband services to millions of rural Americans who don't have access in their homes, farms and businesses.With broadband having become as essential as running water and electricity to improving people's daily lives and providing a standard of living equal to that of urban and suburban parts of the country, policy makers are working together to close the connectivity gap.Pai, who has traveled to 41 states since taking office in January 2017, said federal and state authorities need to have the same sense of mission they had back when they made a priority of providing electricity to every American."I see it is as an echo of the rural electrification efforts we saw in the 1930s, almost 100 years ago," he said.Roughly 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to high-speed broadband, compared with just 4 percent of urban Americans, according to a report from the FCC using 2016 figures.Big broadband providers will focus on the more densely populated and profitable areas of the country, delivering gigabit speed broadband -- often from not just one provider but from multiple companies.