June 8, 2009 - NTCA: Strengthened USF Vital to National Broadband Plan

Substantial increase in high-cost support needed to ensure affordable broadband for all

Arlington, Va., (June 8, 2009) - The $7.2 billion contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act broadband stimulus package and existing levels of high-cost USF support are woefully insufficient to meet the nation's growing broadband needs, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) said in response to an FCC notice of inquiry on a national broadband plan for our future.

Universal service will play an integral role in helping rural providers meet current and future broadband challenges, NTCA said in the comments.  Strengthening and preserving universal service policies in a manner that restates the program's value in an IP world should be the FCC's highest priority in creating a national broadband plan.

To provide comparable, affordable broadband to all Americans, and improve the nation's broadband ranking, "high cost USF support must increase substantially,Contact Caitlin Colligan at 703-351-2086 the pool of USF contributors must include all broadband Internet service providers and should include other companies, such as Google, which impose tremendous costs on the broadband Internet access providers that make up the public Internet," the comments said.

NTCA recommended a number of measures the commission should adopt as the main components of its National Broadband Plan to achieve the goal of a viable and open public Internet with high-quality, affordable high-speed broadband for all consumers, including:  

  • Open a proceeding to define and identify "market failure areas" throughout the U.S. and target these areas for future high-cost broadband USF support to ensure consumers living in these areas have access to affordable and comparable broadband service.

  • Define a "market failure area" as an area that does not have the population base or economic foundation for any provider to justify broadband facilities build-out and ongoing maintenance without external monetary assistance.

  • Transition all high-cost voice USF support to high-cost broadband USF support over a reasonable time period to avoid rate shock, prevent service disruptions and provide stability and certainty during the transition.  

Access a copy of the comments, which outline the remaining recommendations in NTCA's broadband plan, via NTCA's Federal Filings page.