FCC Commissioner: Time to Consider Dedicated Broadband Support for Rural Providers

 

For Immediate Release

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

FCC’s Ajit Pai, Rural Utilities Service’s Padalino address Legislative and Policy conference

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2013) – The time has come for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider a dedicated broadband support mechanism for rural Americans, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told more than 500 leaders of independent telecommunications companies today at the 2013 Legislative and Policy Conference hosted by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.

Speaking during the conference’s opening day at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Pai said much of the commission’s work in recent years has focused on reforming the Universal Service Fund (USF) for rate-of-return telecommunications carriers. But uncertainty surrounding small carriers’ ongoing investment in rural networks has created an opportunity for the commission to consider other methods of fulfilling its statutory universal service goals.

“It’s time for the commission to start moving forward with a Connect America Fund for rate-of-return carriers,” Pai said. “This step would recognize that line loss in rural America is real and that direct support for broadband-capable facilities, within the budget established by the USF Transformation Order, is critical.”

In addition to addressing broadband issues, Pai told conference participants that he hopes the commission will soon act to resolve rural call completion issues, stating that rural Americans should not have to wait years for a solution. “Rural businesses can’t invest tomorrow if they can’t reach their customers today,” he said.

John Padalino, acting administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, urged conference attendees to show members of Congress how their rural communities provide jobs and resources to urban areas and referenced the Obama administration’s efforts to demonstrate how “a strong rural America leads to a stronger America” through Recovery Act loans and grants responsible for more than 40,000 miles of fiber infrastructure.

Conference attendees will participate in hundreds of meetings with members of Congress, their staff and FCC officials on Tuesday as part of the association’s annual two-day legislative and policy push. The conference wraps up Tuesday evening.

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit us at www.ntca.org.