NTCA Welcomes Landmark FCC Action to Promote and Sustain Universal Service in Rural America

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Withers, 703-351-2087, lwithers@ntca.org

Arlington, Va. (December 12, 2018)—NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association issued the following statement from Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield following today’s unanimous FCC vote adopting an order that will advance the delivery of more robust communications services in rural America.

“Today’s action represents a watershed moment in our nation’s long-running effort to promote and sustain universal service in a broadband world. More than seven years after the FCC’s ‘Transformation Order’ first aimed to reorient federal Universal Service Fund (USF) support systems toward broadband, and in the wake of a 2016 order that took important steps toward that goal, today’s landmark order delivers on much of the promise of these prior reform efforts and will hopefully put the high-cost USF program on a path for greater success and stability for years to come.

In the face of significant regulatory uncertainty and upheaval over the past decade, small, rural providers have nonetheless led the charge in deploying future-proof broadband infrastructure and delivering robust and reliable communications services in the most rural parts of our nation. Notwithstanding deepening and unpredictable cuts in USF support, a series of stringent new caps and constraints on operations and the ever-distracting prospect of additional changes, NTCA members have kept their noses to the grindstones in the interest of delivering the best possible broadband to the rural communities they call home. NTCA hopes that today’s order will allow these community-based, rural providers to get back to focusing more fully on the business of investing in infrastructure and delivering even higher-quality services in rural America.

NTCA is deeply grateful to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for his firm commitment to promoting rural broadband and overcoming the digital divide by producing this order, and we are sincerely appreciative of the leadership and long-standing engagement of Commissioners Michael O’Rielly, Brendan Carr, and Jessica Rosenworcel in advancing universal service and ultimately supporting this order. NTCA also cannot thank enough the congressional leaders who, in a truly rare and remarkable demonstration of consensus, have called time and again for the FCC to take the sorts of steps represented in today’s order. For many years, hundreds of members of Congress, including Sens. John Thune, Amy Klobuchar, Deborah Fischer, John Tester, Roger Wicker, Maria Cantwell, Jerry Moran, and Angus King as well as Reps. Kevin Cramer, Collin Peterson, Bob Latta, Dave Loebsack, Adam Kinzinger, and Peter Welch have written to the FCC seeking the restoration of regulatory certainty and sufficiency within these USF mechanisms and the development of common-sense policies that will better promote and sustain universal service in a broadband world. The reforms adopted today would not have come to pass without the support, guidance, and commitment of this broad coalition of policymakers.

With this order as a much-needed foundation, NTCA looks forward to helping our members build upon their already outstanding work to deploy cutting-edge networks and deliver on the promise of even better communications services for years to come.”

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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 transformative technological advancements, regulatory challenges and marketplace competition, NTCA members are leading the technological evolution for rural consumers, delivering robust and high-quality services over future-proof networks 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, e-commerce, health care, agriculture and education, and it contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year. Visit us at www.ntca.org.