NTCA Lays Out Telecom Policy Course for Obama Administration
Arlington, Va., December 18, 2008 - In a letter to President-elect Obama, NTCA outlined a communications policy course that will enhance the nation's economic and technological prosperity.
Noting that Americans are increasingly turning to communications services for commerce, security and entertainment applications, NTCA said the hallmark of our national universal service policy should be the deployment of a network fully capable of meeting those needs. The letter also urged the strengthening of universal service policy by tightening program eligibility requirements, providing support based on a carrier's own costs, expanding the contributions base and removing the program from the federal budgeting process.
NTCA also said intercarrier compensation arbitrage must be limited and noted the importance of minimizing the consumer impact of such a move and of appropriate transitions for carriers and policy-makers as well. The letter also touches on nondiscriminatory interconnection and access to infrastructure content, roaming, spectrum, and rights of way as well as appropriate financing.
"We believe industry responsibilities accompany the opportunity to transition to a competitive deregulatory operating environment. These obligations include fully embracing our national universal service policy, adequately compensating others for the use of their facilities and negotiating interconnection and access matters in good faith," NTCA said in the letter.
In a separate letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) NTCA made several recommendations regarding the inclusion of language to help promote the building of a nationwide broadband network in the stimulus package Congress is developing. NTCA's recommendations will benefit all broadband providers throughout the country and ensure our nation's broadband infrastructure is capable of meeting consumers broadband demands. Among them are:
- The inclusion of broadband in the definition of the universal service.
- The provision of emergency federal right-of-way rules to expedite broadband deployment.
- The establishment of a national broadband transmission speed goal that evolves with consumer demand and technological advances.
- The creation of zero percent interest loans, grants and/or tax incentives with conditions.
- The conditioning of the emergence of government-owned networks on ensuring that private sector providers are given the right of first refusal to provide service, that the respective electorate has endorsed the concept, and that such networks are subjected to the same responsibilities, regulations and rights as private sector carriers.
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing more than 580 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 .