NTCA Joins With 34 Rural Groups to Advocate for Small Carrier Broadband Support System

For Immediate Release
Contact: Hillary Crowder, 703-351-2086, hcrowder@ntca.org 

Arlington, Va. (March 6, 2014) – NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association has joined forces with 34 groups representing a wide array of consumer, community and business interests in rural areas to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to act as quickly as possible to implement a new, targeted support system for broadband communications services in rural America.

The group sent a letter March 5 to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler requesting that the commission not wait for changes to be made to the Connect America Fund (CAF) model in place for larger telecommunications providers before implementing a CAF for small, rural providers. Citing the length of time it has taken to devise a support mechanism for larger carriers and the significant issues that must be addressed before the model can be considered a viable option for support by smaller providers, the group encouraged the commission to immediately address how smaller carriers that serve rural areas can obtain broadband-focused CAF support of their own.

Because of the way Universal Service Fund (USF) support is currently set up, consumers in rural America are being forced to select services they may not want, such as traditional landline telephone service, in order to gain access to broadband services at an affordable rate. A carefully tailored CAF for small, rural providers would change this and maximize consumer choice.

“Our groups include representatives of agribusiness, farmers and ranchers, rural health care providers, rural educational initiatives, economic development agencies, utilities, lenders and other sectors that are indispensable to our rural and national economies,” the letter stated.

“Our members’ operations help to drive rural economies and provide essential resources for the entire nation. Our members’ businesses—and their customers’ businesses and well-being—depend upon affordable access to robust broadband.ˮ

In addition to NTCA, the organizations that signed on to the letter are: AGCO Corp., Agricultural Retailers Association, American Association of Community Colleges, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Library Association, American Telemedicine Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, CoBank, Community Action Partnership, Farm Credit Council, Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, John Deere, National Association of Development Organizations, National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Grange, National Information Solutions Cooperative, National Rural Economic Developers Association, National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition, National Rural Education Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Rural Health Association, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, North American Equipment Dealers Association, Rebuild Americas Schools, Rural and Agriculture Council for America, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural School and Community Trust, Stand Up for Rural America, and State Agriculture and Rural Leaders.

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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.