NTCA Testimony on the Universal Service Fund

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kelly Wismer, (703) 351-2015, kwismer@ntca.org

Arlington, Va. (June 20, 2017)—Shirley Bloomfield, chief executive officer of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, testified today before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet during the hearing, “The Universal Service Fund and Rural Broadband Investment.” The following is excerpted from Bloomfield’s written testimony:

“Small, rural broadband providers have for decades been frontrunners in deploying state of the art communications services to their customers. Services that enable local businesses to serve globally and connect rural America to urban America and the world. These impacts are felt not only in agriculture, but in all sectors of the economy that depend on broadband connections, such as education, commerce, health care and government. However, the job is far from finished. Communications providers must not only deploy broadband; they must sustain and upgrade their networks to keep pace with their consumers’ growing demands. We also still face the challenge, of course, of delivering services to parts of rural America without access.”

“The High-Cost [Universal Service Fund] program is . . .  already a success story in many respects, and it is positioned to achieve even greater things in a broadband era going forward.  Unfortunately, despite all this progress, the viability and effectiveness of the USF is at the same time in serious peril.  While regulatory uncertainty from USF reforms and budgets has seemed like a fact of life for small network operators for more than a decade, the effects of a budget that has been flat for almost a decade are finally coming home to roost. . . . We are hopeful that with continued congressional interest and leadership we can see these issues addressed, and the promise of last year’s USF reforms can be realized by the millions of rural consumers served by smaller rural network operators.”

“NTCA is excited to participate in this conversation regarding rural broadband. We look forward to working with policymakers and other stakeholders on a comprehensive infrastructure strategy that provides the tools and capabilities needed to achieve our nation’s shared broadband goals.”

The full text of the submitted written testimony is available online

 

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 850 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.