Comments on Chairman Wheeler’s Lifeline Program Proposal

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

Arlington, Va. ( May 28, 2015)—NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today issued the following statement from Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield regarding FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal regarding the agency’s Lifeline program:

“Members of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association have shown commitment time and again to serving every consumer in high-cost rural communities, including anchor institutions, small businesses and low-income residential users. In fact, a number of NTCA members sought to participate in the FCC’s recently concluded Broadband Lifeline Pilot Project precisely because of this community commitment.  

“At the same time, in high-cost areas, the Lifeline program and other USF programs can only be effective to the extent that a network for consumer use is there in the first instance and if the services offered on that network are reasonably comparable in price and quality to those in urban areas. If we don’t tackle and overcome these threshold issues in high-cost areas—if we don’t set up a sufficiently funded and predictable high-cost mechanism that is updated for a broadband world—consumers of all kinds in rural America, low-income and otherwise, could be left behind notwithstanding any Lifeline changes that might follow. 

“As always, NTCA welcomes carefully constructed, well-coordinated updates that look to solve the challenges of universal service in all of its forms. We look forward to further discussions with the commission on how best to achieve this in the context of the Lifeline program and in concert with the operations of other USF programs.”  

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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.