FCC Chairman Genachowski Highlights USF and ICC Reform
October 6, 2011 (Washington, D.C.) – In a live broadcast today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered remarks on his proposed reforms to the Universal Service Fund and to intercarrier compensation.
The chairman said there is unanimous consensus among FCC commissioners that USF and ICC “are interrelated, they are complex, they are broken,” and that the proposed reforms “will put us on the path to universal broadband by the end of the decade.” The proposed reforms would transition USF to a Connect America Fund, with near-term buildout starting in 2012, and would ensure wireless broadband through a Mobility Fund, Genachowski said. “We will also constrain the growth of the fund,” he said, adding that the commission has “made fiscal responsibility one of the key pillars of the fund.”
For rate of return carriers, “We’ll begin by reforming the rate of return framework, ensuring ... predictable support É and extending common-sense limits on reimbursements for corporate operations expenses,” Genachowski said. For Americans in the most remote areas, the fund will rely on market-based mechanisms.
Reform also will include a waiver process to account for special cases.
The proposal will phase down ICC access rates, tackling terminating charges before assessing a transition path for other rate elements.
Genachowski will circulate a USF/ICC reform order today to the commissioners and place it on the agenda for a vote in late October.
“NTCA is proud that its hundreds of small rural telco members, together with hundreds of small rural providers represented by OPASTCO and WTA, came forward to define and present creative solutions to the many thorny questions surrounding USF and ICC reform,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “We appreciate the efforts by so many of our members to encourage the FCC to give serious consideration to the rural associations’ plan and the need for predictable, sustainable support of broadband-capable networks in high-cost areas.”
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing over 570 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.