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Manchin continues challenge to FCC data on internet, cellphones

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After the Federal Communications Commission announced the intention to establish a 5G Fund for rural America, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he will continue to contest FCC data until information accurately represents coverage in West Virginia and similar states.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last week the $9 billion map will replace the planned Mobility Fund Phase II, which would have provided support for expanded 4G LTE services to unserved areas. Commission staff found wireless providers did not submit reliable data, and the body cannot move forward with Mobility Fund Phase II as planned.

Manchin — who challenged the Mobility Fund Phase II for not accurately representing rural communities — said the FCC and carriers should not hold rural communities back.

“We’re going to fight and hold this up until we make sure that we’re acknowledged and that these maps are correct now,” he said. “Areas of West Virginia and other rural areas of this country are going to be treated fair.”

Manchin was the only legislator to participate in the mapping process. Eleven government bodies from around the state also took part in the challenge.

“If you live in rural West Virginia — if you live anywhere in West Virginia — you’re underserved right now, and you’re not going to be able to compete in a 21st-century economy,” he said. “We have to have this. It’s no different than our great grandparents had to have electricity back in the 1930s. That’s where we are.”

Manchin also encouraged the development of co-ops for creating and managing broadband and cellphone services across the state.

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