Provisions of the Order Must Satisfy the Mandates of the Communications Act and Applicable Law
Arlington, Va. (December 9, 2011) - NTCA Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Romano released the following statement regarding the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) USF/ICC reform order and NTCA's petition for review filed today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit:
"After devoting substantial efforts to review and interpret the complex USF/ICC reforms recently released by the FCC, NTCA has determined that several aspects of the order require judicial review to ensure that reforms are consistent with the Communications Act and other provisions of law. Therefore, today NTCA is filing a petition for review of the FCC's order with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
"To be clear, we appreciate the FCC's attempt to loosen, if not untie altogether, the Gordian knots that have existed around the USF and ICC programs for years. The order represents a historic step forward, and a significant achievement for the commissioners, the FCC staff, and all of the industry, state regulators, consumer advocates and other stakeholders who worked to shape the reforms. We also believe that, in certain respects, the order can help to promote the sustainability of these essential programs.
"There are several specific provisions of the order, however, that we are concerned fail to comport with the fundamental mandates of the Communications Act and the core principles of universal service. These provisions threaten to undermine the carefully constructed regulatory balance that has proven successful thus far in bringing telecommunications and advanced services to rural America. They put at risk the ability of small, rural, community-based providers to access capital and invest in broadband-capable networks in their hometowns and the surrounding countryside. Provisions mandating an ultimate price of zero for all switched access and reciprocal compensation services, imposing retroactive and dynamically changing caps on USF-supported costs and blurring the lines between regulated and nonregulated operations are inconsistent with law. These provisions will harm rural communities, and will not help to advance the availability and affordability of services for all rural consumers."
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing over 570 locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies throughout rural and small-town America. NTCA provides its members with legislative, regulatory and industry representation; meetings; publications and educational programs; and an array of employee benefit programs. Visit us at www.ntca.org.