NTCA Statement on FCC Actions on Rural Broadband Deployment

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

Arlington, Va. (March 23, 2018)—NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association issued the following statement from Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield regarding adoption of an FCC report and order, order on reconsideration, and notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at promoting rural broadband deployment:

“We are still reviewing the details of the order and related items released by the FCC today, but as a threshold matter, we welcome several aspects of today’s action.

“First, NTCA has actively engaged in the effort to secure greater, bright-line clarity in determining what is and is not recoverable through universal service. NTCA has seen this as important to promote effective and efficient use of limited resources for the benefit of both consumers and stakeholders in that system. While we’re still working through the specifics of the FCC’s revisions, we welcome generally efforts to provide clearer guidance on such issues going forward.

“More importantly, however, today’s action by the FCC to address immediate USF budget crises represents a much-needed ‘shot in the arm’ for rural broadband and charts a course toward realizing the goal of promoting and sustaining effective broadband deployment in rural America. NTCA and its small hometown broadband providers appreciate the FCC for responding to long-standing concerns—and the concerns raised by congressional leaders and consumers as well—over the past several years regarding the shortcomings of and the shortfalls in the universal service mechanisms. Budgets may be a ‘fact of life’ in today’s universal service programs, but those budgets must be sufficient and predictable to comply with law. As the decision today recognizes in providing additional resources, the current levels of high-cost USF support are not sufficient.

“Finally, the notice included with today’s order also rightly recognizes that there is much more to do and to discuss to ensure that sufficient and effective universal service support will be available as required by law to achieve and sustain our nation’s connectivity goals.”

Concerns with respect to the insufficiency of USF support have long been NTCA’s top public policy priority, underscored by a June 2017 survey of NTCA’s membership detailing the impacts of the USF budget cuts on the ability of rural providers to serve their customers. The survey results are available online.

###

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.