Diverse Stakeholders Agree Cap on USF Unnecessary
In reply comments filed with the FCC on August 26, NTCA─The Rural Broadband Association stated a diverse array of stakeholders agree that an overall cap on the FCC’s Universal Service Fund is unnecessary. NTCA stated the cap is inconsistent with the proper fulfilment of universal service as set forth in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.“ Like NTCA, most parties commenting on the NPRM judge the proposal for an overall cap on the USF to be contrary to clear statutory language and a step that would place at risk the distinct but complementary missions of universal service as Congress intended and articulated in the 1996 Act,” NTCA explained. Accordingly, NTCA urged the Commission to decline adoption of an overall cap on the USF.
Smart Rural Communities℠ to be Celebrated at NTCA Fall Conference
NTCA will celebrate the nearly 100 companies in its membership that have achieved Smart Rural Communities Showcase Awards or Smart Rural Community Provider℠ status under the initiative’s new branding program during the 2019 Fall Conference on Sept. 23 in Denver. The celebrations will culminate with the presentation of the 2019 Smart Rural Communities Showcase award recipients during the conference’s opening general session. In addition, NTCA will recognize the more than 40 companies that have become Smart Rural Community Providers℠ since the launch earlier this year of a new branding platform available only to NTCA members. By becoming a Smart Rural Community Provider™, companies receive a marketing and branding kit celebrating technological achievement and community accomplishments. Companies with gigabit-capable broadband networks can also become a Gig-Capable Smart Rural Community Provider™, as NTCA joined Smart Rural Communities℠ with its NTCA Gig-Capable Provider certification program to highlight the power of NTCA member networks.
NTCA: FCC Universal Service Support Key to Success of Rural Communities
NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association on August 22 applauded the FCC’s authorization of $491 million in annual support for the expansion and operation of broadband networks in rural communities. The funding, made through the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model, or A-CAM, will support broadband deployment and maintenance by small, rural communications providers in 39 states, including locations on Tribal lands. The following statement is attributed to NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield: “Our members have long shared the FCC’s interest in closing the digital divide and have helped our country make progress on that goal through the universal service program. Thanks to the FCC’s continued support and the ongoing efforts of small, rural broadband providers, rural consumers and businesses across the country will be served with future-proof technologies and reap the many benefits of robust connectivity for years to come. “We look forward to continuing to work with the FCC toward fulfillment of universal service objectives and bridging connectivity gaps across rural America.”
FCC Activates Disaster Information Reporting for Tropical Storm Dorian
The FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau on August 27 announced the activation of the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) in response to Tropical Storm Dorian. The commission requested that communications providers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands submit and update information through DIRS regarding the status of their communications equipment. NTCA is monitoring the storm’s track and will share more info with members as it becomes available.
Notes in the News for August 29, 2019
- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it will hold several rural broadband workshops in six states. Workshops are planned in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, Mississippi, and New Mexico. A full list of events is available on the Broadband USA website.
- NTCA on August 22 issued a statement from Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield regarding the Anti-Robocall Principles put forth by the state Attorneys General. Bloomfield said NTCA appreciates the efforts to tackle the issue of illegal and unwanted robocalls and that NTCA member companies are community-oriented providers that take robocalling concerns very seriously.
- FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the appointment of Jeffrey Prince as chief economist of the commission. Dr. Prince currently serves as a professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a ReConnect Program Workshop on September 19 in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the Ivy Tech Community College - Coliseum Campus. The event will provide attendees with an understanding of the overall program requirements and application process, in anticipation of the next Funding Opportunity Announcement expected to be released in late 2019.
- Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) will convene the hearing, "Transforming Rural America: A New Era of Innovation," at 1:30 p.m. CST on Thursday, September 5, at the Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, S.D. NTCA member Mark Shlanta, chief executive officer of SDN Communications (Sioux Falls) is among the hearing witnesses.