In today's global economy, the ability to quickly access and share information is critical. Accordingly, a prerequisite for economic growth is an advanced, reliable and affordable telecommunications infrastructure. This is especially true for rural areas, where distance and low population densities often put small communities at competitive disadvantages.
New research commissioned by the Colorado Telecommunications Association (CTA) and released today details the potentially harmful effects that cuts to the Universal Service Fund (USF) would have on the state’s rural communities and businesses. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering modifications to the USF, which helps build rural communications networks and assists small, rural telecommunications providers in offering affordable broadband services to rural communities.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed to alter the Universal Service Fund (USF) program and move the funds currently being used to support telephone service towards the establishment of a national broadband plan. In so doing, the FCC has proposed changes to the USF that would reduce, and could eliminate, USF Funding to thirty- five small telephone companies serving rural Missouri.
New research released today by Missouri State University’s (MSU) Bureau of Economic Research (BER) details the potentially harmful effects that cuts to the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) would have on the state’s rural communities and businesses. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering modifications to the USF, which helps build rural communications networks and assist small, rural telecommunications providers in offering affordable broadband services to rural communities. The report helps to frame the importance of USF to the state’s economy.
Today, the Rural Telecom Associations, composed of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) and the Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA), sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction urging the committee members to recognize the long history and legal precedent of the Universal Service Fund as private funds and that those funds are unavailable for use by the Committee to aid in their efforts to reduce the Federal debt.
The battle over Universal Service Fund reform isn't grabbing the kind of headlines that other regulatory squabbles are, but it is a significant issue for the U.S. telecom market for multiple reasons. Here's what you need to know about regulatory reform:
Why you should care: First, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's decision as to how USF will be changed essentially determines who has the best shot at providing broadband in unserved and underserved areas of the U.S. going forward. And by default, that means what the FCC decides will also likely determine whether those areas get broadband service and what the service looks like -– how fast it will be, how symmetrical, and whether it is wireless or wireline.
In February 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks to alter the Universal Service Fund (USF) and intercarrier compensation system ostensibly for a broadband marketplace. Among other things, the NPRM seeks comment on: “Streamlining the study area waiver process to eliminate barriers to consolidation and rationalization of service territories.” To the extent the proposed rule changes reduce regulation and lessen the burden on overregulated companies, the rule changes are praiseworthy. But, the FCC appears to frame the discussion of changing rules on study area waiver requests not as a matter of deregulation, but rather as a matter of industrial policy aimed at reducing the number of small telephone companies and increasing the size of the remaining companies.
Harold Furchtgott-Roth, a former Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 1997-2001, today released a white paper today arguing the Commission should not hold a position regarding consolidation with the rural industry.
A telecommunications revolution is happening all around us. Innovative new products and services are coming to market every day that can enrich our lives and spur growth. Many are based on the availability of broadband Internet.
Yet unless the FCC protects the principle of universal service, millions of our fellow citizens could be left out. Kingdom Telephone Co., a small community-based provider, has put universal service funds to good use, achieving outstanding results. Since 2007, 100 percent of Kingdom’s member-subscribers have had access to quality broadband services.
We are fortunate to be living in the midst of a telecommunications revolution that is changing our lives for the better. While the newest smart phone or Internet application gets the headlines, it is the broadband network infrastructure such as the fiber optice cable deployed by Pine Telephone and other companies that make it happen.
The Kansas Rural Independent Telecommunications Companies support the need to modernize and streamline the Federal Universal Service Fund.
Contrary to claims made by the author of a letter published earlier this month in The Topeka Capital-Journal, “Expand broadband in Kansas,” the Federal Communication Commission’s reform proposal would actually deprive many Kansans of basic and advanced telecommunication services. These services require long-term commitments like those already made by the regulated small companies.
The FCC is gearing up to make long-awaited Universal Service reforms promised before year-end. To put potential reforms in context, Connected Planet thought it would be useful to recap some of the numbers that are so critical to understanding the situation.
Rural telecommunications companies are warning that a proposed revamp of key federal funding streams could put them at financial risk and expose customers to rate increases.
The low-simmering debate is expected to come to a head this fall, when the Federal Communications Commission issues new rules revamping the 14-year-old Universal Service Fund.
Most people probably never have heard of the fund, unless they look at the details of their phone bill.
Grass roots efforts are getting under way to try to change the minds of federal government policy makers who are proposing changes in the way money collected from consumers will be used to improve rural broadband communication services.
At the center of the issue is a Federal Communications Commission proposal to prioritize projects in urban areas — where more customers are available — at the expense of less densely populated areas.