June 14, 2010 - Rural Groups Tell USDA Sec. Vilsack National Broadband Plan Jeopardizes Infrastructure Investment and Repayment of RUS Loans
Plan Consequences Also Affect Success of Administration's Broadband Initiative Program
Arlington, Va., (June 14, 2010) - The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) and the Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to express concern about the negative impact the National Broadband Plan (NBP) would have on rural areas and the people living in these areas.
In the letter, the rural groups explain that the staff of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed a proposal for broadband support and regulation that puts existing rural broadband networks at risk. The proposal creates financial uncertainty for the rural telecommunications industry, jeopardizing investment in rural communications infrastructure, future debt equity loans for carriers, and the repayment of Rural Utilities Service (RUS) loans.
"There is grave concern about the ability of our members to pay back existing communications loans made by RUS. Some rural communications providers that have been approved for Broadband Initiative Program loans under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are now reconsidering the viability of repaying these loans in the future if the NBP is implemented in its current form."
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.