NTCA: Rewrite of Communications Act Must not Abandon Core Principles of Universal Service, Consumer Protection, Competition


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

Arlington, Va. (January 31, 2014) – In support of ongoing efforts by community-based telecommunications providers to promote and sustain an ongoing evolution to advanced network technologies, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today filed comments offering recommendations for how lawmakers should approach any potential updates to the Communications Act. 

NTCA, the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies delivering high-quality communications services in the most sparsely populated, highest-cost rural areas of the country, encouraged Congress to ensure that any potential statutory update proceeds from and comports with core principles of universal service, consumer protection and competition.

Among the association’s specific recommendations were:

  • Congress should ensure that specific, predictable and sufficient support will be provided to help promote reasonably comparable services at reasonably comparable rates in rural, high-cost areas, as mandated by current law.
  • Congress should consider departing from service “silos” that have allowed entities to engage in arbitrage and self-select the degree to which laws and rules apply to their operations.
  • Congress should consider an express directive to the FCC to ensure that all who use our nation’s networks—by whatever service or technology—are responsible to contribute to the universal well-being and availability of those networks on an equitable basis.
  • Congress should ensure that universal service support is tied not to a limited service, but available instead to advanced networks that provide consumers with access to a variety of essential, high-quality services from which each consumer may choose. Congress should also ensure that all key parts of the network, including so-called “middle mile” transport that is used to connect rural areas to the rest of the world, can receive predictable and sufficient support.
  • Congress should ensure that networks of all kinds are seamlessly interconnected, and that clear “rules of the road” are in place to prevent recurrence of consumer-affecting disruptions such as the persistent “rural call completion” epidemic.

“The core objective of the Communications Act is making available rapid, efficient nationwide and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable cost,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “This objective is timeless and transcends technology. There is certainly a need for surgical updates to address changes in technology, consumer preference and market condition, but such changes must not be used as an excuse for sweeping revisions that depart from timeless core principles.”

The full comments are available here.

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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.