Rural Carriers Apply to Participate in FCC Broadband Adoption Pilot Program
Carriers partner with nonprofit to provide computers, digital literacy training
WASHINGTON (July 3, 2012) – Five rural local exchange carriers filed an application this week to participate in the FCC’s “Broadband Adoption Pilot Program” to improve broadband adoption among low-income Americans.
The carriers that filed the application are Adams Telephone Co-Operative (Golden, Ill.), Alpine Communications (Elkader, Iowa), Leaco Rural Telephone (Hobbs, N.M.), Madison Telephone Co. (Staunton, Ill.) and Mid Century Telephone Cooperative (Fairview, Ill.). All five carriers are members of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA).
The FCC announced the pilot program in April, allocating $25 million in savings from reforms made earlier this year to its Lifeline program. The funds will support projects that provide data about broadband adoption and guide long-term efforts to increase connectivity among low-income Americans. NTCA helped facilitate the rural carriers’ efforts as they considered participation in the project and, ultimately, prepared an application.
In their application, the rural carriers’ state that their participation in the program would give the commission an opportunity to examine how and to what extent broadband adoption by low-income consumers in rural areas might be driven or deterred by different factors. They propose employing a variety of incentives, including flat and sliding scale discounts and stand-alone broadband or bundled voice/broadband services at different speeds, to promote adoption and test consumers’ preferences. The carriers also have partnered with the Washington, D.C., nonprofit Connected Nation to provide low-cost computers to consumers who complete free online digital literacy training.
If the rural carriers’ application is approved, it could provide as much as $400 per eligible consumer over the program’s 12 months. The rural carriers estimate that as many as 1,000 low-income consumers who live in the companies’ service areas could benefit from the support.
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) is the premier association representing more than 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.