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The heads of the three rural telecommunications associations that make up Save Rural Broadband today joined representatives of several other telecommunications organizations and companies in sending letters to key Members of Congress urging them to support their consensus framework for Universal Service Fund (USF) and intercarrier compensation reform. The framework, which is comprised of two separate but complementary plans to support the deployment and continued operation of rural networks by providers of all sizes, was submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on July 29, 2011.

After much deliberation, discussion and analysis, the leadership of NTCA, OPASTCO and WTA (the Rural Associations) have given approval for their respective associations to file a joint letter with a group of other industry stakeholders indicating that the universal service fund (USF) and intercarrier compensation (ICC) reform plan filed by the Rural Associations in April 2011, together with proposals being filed today by these other stakeholders, would provide a sound foundation for USF and ICC reform throughout rural America.

Since the release of the National Broadband Plan, the Rural Associations have worked together with a number of other stakeholders in the rural telecommunications industry to develop and file an alternative USF and ICC reform plan that would promote the availability of sustainable, affordable broadband in the areas served by small rural carriers. We recognize the deep commitment that our members have made to serve their consumers in these areas, and the importance of reliable cost recovery mechanisms that both enable recovery of costs from existing investment and promote new investment in broadband-capable networks.

Yesterday, four Republican members of the Missouri delegation wrote FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski expressing their concerns with the Commission's proposed rule that would modify the Universal Service Fund (USF) and intercarrier compensation system (ICC) (  In their letter, the four urge the Commissioners "to carefully consider the harm specific proposals could have on rural consumers in our state -- and remain mindful of fragile rural economies, while also promoting broadband adoption. We hope the Commission will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that all rural consumers can look forward to readily available and affordable broadband services."