NTCA Proposes Five-Point Plan for High-Cost USF Reform
October 2, 2007, Arlington, Va. - In an effort to provide guidance to the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service as it considers reforming the high-cost universal service program, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) has submitted a five point reform plan that it believes will ensure the sustainability of the program.
NTCA`s plan does not increase the size of the high-cost universal service fund (USF) mechanisms significantly in the long-term, and makes room for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt the Missoula Plan for intercarrier compensation.NTCA`s reform principles meet the goals of the Joint Board and address the needs of small, medium and large landline and wireless communications providers. In its plan, NTCA proposes that the Joint Board should recommend and the FCC should:
- Eliminate the identical support rule.
- Remove, in the short term, access replacement support (including interstate common line support, local switching support and interstate access support) for wireless CETCs.
- In the long-term, the FCC should determine the future basis of high-cost USF support for various sized wireless CETCs and open a proceeding to establish the requirements and the specific methodology for determining actual cost-based support for CETCs.
- The Joint Board and FCC should immediately open a separate Universal Service Redefinition proceeding to consider whether to include broadband in the definition of universal service, and if so how to include broadband in that definition.
- The Joint Board should recommend as part of the Universal Service Redefinition proceeding that the FCC consider a small broadband USF pilot grant program available to small, medium and large landline and wireless non-rate-of-return carriers with NTCA`s proposed limitations and conditions contained in its plan. The pilot program considered should be significantly smaller in the near term in order to evaluate the effectiveness of any future grant program and to provide room for intercarrier compensation reform so that the high-cost USF does not increase dramatically before the FCC can address the longer term universal service and intercarrier compensation issues.
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing more than 560 locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies throughout rural and small-town America. NTCA provides its members with legislative, regulatory and industry representation; meetings; publications and educational programs; and an array of employee benefit programs. Visit us at www.ntca.org.