NTCA Statement On FCC Rate Floor Increase for Rural Telecommunications

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

Arlington, Va. (March 20, 2014) – NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today issued the following statement from Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Romano regarding the FCC’s announcement of a new rate floor for rural telecommunications services: 

“The FCC several years ago adopted a rule that required increases in local voice service rates in certain rural areas. We understood the need for reform and to bring some rates into better balance. But we also raised legitimate questions about whether the way in which these rate increases would be calculated was fair and whether these rate hikes could have negative consequences on rural consumers and businesses. 

“We are now seeing these concerns hit home in today’s announcement, with local voice service rates in a number of rural communities potentially poised to spike by over $6—or more than 40%—in just a few months unless the FCC takes further action. The ironic part is that this is likely to spur more consumers to consider dropping voice service, even while outdated universal service rules then punish customers for doing so by increasing their broadband rates. 

“We hope that the FCC will revisit this policy as soon as possible, and consider more measured and practical ways of ensuring that local service rates are brought into fair balance where need be. This also underscores yet again the urgent need for the FCC to act on an issue that NTCA has been seeking to make a priority for almost 18 months now—the need to update universal service rules to allow consumers who want to drop local voice service to do so without seeing massive increases in their rates for broadband.  

“The time has come for action—both on a fair and thoughtful way of bringing local rates into balance and on updating universal service rules to provide sufficient and predictable support even where a consumer makes the affirmative choice to take only broadband service and ‘cut the cord’ on voice. We look forward to active, immediate and constructive engagement with the FCC on both points.”

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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.