Rural Telecom Leaders Urge FCC to Suspend Untested USF Caps and Take Stock of Recent Reforms Before Racing Forward With Further Changes

 

Contact: Laura Withers, 703-351-2086, lwithers@ntca.org 
              Wendy Mann, 703-351-2087, wmann@ntca.org

Telco executives express concern with insufficient and unpredictable support

WASHINGTON (July 24, 2012) – Executives from small, independent telecommunications firms across rural America are meeting with federal policy-makers this week to urge suspension of new caps on Universal Service Fund (USF) support that appear to have been implemented without any testing to confirm their validity or volatility.

Their visit was organized by NTCA to draw attention to potentially harmful cuts to the USF and intercarrier compensation (ICC) support systems that ensure all Americans can have access to affordable communications services, including high-speed broadband.

The telecom leaders represent small, independent telephone companies and cooperatives in Ohio, Colorado, Kansas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Texas that serve as carriers of last resort in their communities and drivers of local economic development.

They are urging members of Congress and other federal policy-makers to seek an immediate suspension of the USF caps until testing demonstrates the caps will provide sufficient and predictable support that enables sustainable broadband network investment and operation. These telecom leaders are also asking policy-makers to study the effects of last year’s sweeping reforms on the availability and affordability of voice and broadband services for rural consumers before plowing forward with additional rule changes.

“It is troubling that these caps took effect prior to the release of any testing that assesses their validity and volatility,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “These caps are based on a model that is riddled with data flaws, and it appears that they could change every year in undetermined ways. We’re calling on federal policy-makers to suspend these caps immediately pending testing and to take stock of the many other changes just now being implemented before undertaking additional rule changes.”

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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; educational programs; and an array of employee benefit programs. Visit us at www.ntca.org.