New Ads, Social Media Effort to Educate Public and Congress about Harmful Rules Currently Under Consideration
WASHINGTON July 14, 2011 Mark Begich Lee Terry
"The House Republican proposal is a new, hidden tax on consumers," the associations said. "This will not only mean less money for consumers, but will also negatively impact commerce,
e-government, agriculture and our overall prosperity, and result in defaults in government and private sector loans leading to more economic distress and lost service. We urge consumers to reach out to their members of Congress and tell them to leave the Universal Service Fund alone."
Currently, rural carriers of last resort obtain support through the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) for a portion of the costs they incur to provide and expand broadband services to nearly five million customers in high-cost rural areas. This support enables small rural telephone companies and cooperatives to provide consumers and businesses in their service areas with affordable broadband service, to extend such services to "unserved" areas over time, and to upgrade their networks in response to consumer demand for faster connection speeds and more bandwidth-intensive applications and services.
However, new rules currently being considered by the FCC would put affordable and reliable rural broadband service and upgrades in jeopardy by slashing and redistributing this essential USF support.
The rural telecom associations’ alternative would achieve USF and intercarrier compensation (ICC) reform by encouraging fiscal responsibility, demanding accountability, reasonably constraining growth in the USF and modernizing existing mechanisms. Specifically, it would:
- Develop a cost-based, "rate of return" based broadband funding mechanism for rural carriers.
- Establish several targeted measures to enhance efficiency in the use of USF support.
- Apply existing ICC rules and rates to all traffic originating from or terminating to switched networks, strengthen call signaling requirements, and adopt reasonable rules to address access stimulation.
- Minimize opportunities and incentives for arbitrage by unifying intrastate and interstate ICC rates.
- Avoid arbitrary long-term ICC rate-setting goals such as "bill and keep" or a uniform rate applicable to all carriers.
Washington Kelly Worthington
the United States www.opastco.org
SOURCE Rural Telecom Associations