WASHINGTON, November 6, 2009 - The National Cable and Telecommunications Association has asked the Federal Communications Commission to redirect up to $2 billion in "wasteful" spending from Universal Service programs towards broadband. The association did so in a filing submitted to the Commission on Thursday.
With telephone subscriber contributions to the program now exceeding 12 percent of total usage fees -- and projected to pass 14 percent next year, it is "critically important" for the FCC to update the program, NCTA said in a press release.
"The USF program operates as if nothing has changed since 1996," the association said in its filing. Americans continuous switch away from traditional copper-based phone service negates the need to subsidize it, and funds should be redirected towards the broadband infrastructure carrying Voice over IP traffic which Americans are increasingly choosing. "[A]s millions of Americans take service from facilities-based wireline competitors, the Commission continues to provide billions of dollars of support for [traditional] service."
The NCTA suggests the FCC use a two-step process to reassess the level of USF support needed by measuring the availability of cable-based telephone service -- and reducing USF support where it can be shown that competitive service is available from those providers. Subsidies should only be given in the face of a compelling, demonstrated need that "specific costs" associated with serving areas cannot be recovered from subscription fees alone, the filing suggests.
"The burden should be on the ILEC to demonstrate that the total cost of serving areas where it is the sole provider is greater than the total revenues it can potentially generate from services sold to customers," the NCTA petition said.
A step further would be to expand USF subsidies to cover broadband services -- an idea NCTA said "could address a major concern of policymakers." While NCTA admitted expanding USF to cover all broadband services, a limited and measured program could help provide all Americans with access to broadband capabilities.
The FCC currently has proposals pending before it that would expand the USF "Life Line" and "Link Up" programs to include broadband service. The pilot proposals were endorsed by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners at its Winter 2009 meeting in Chicago, from November 16 - 18.
- Broadband Advocates at Next Century Cities Emphasize Importance of Building Community Networks
- Advocates for Digital Inclusion Address Different Facets of Bridging the Digital Divide
- New America Highlights the Broadband Prices Available on Ammon, Idaho’s Open Access Network
- In Interview With New York Times Editorial Board, Joe Biden Urges Revoking Section 230
- Senate Commerce Hearing Tackles Barriers to the Short-Staffed 5G Deployment Initiatives
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Open Access4 weeks ago
UTOPIA Fiber: A Model Open-Access Network
China2 months ago
Prakash Sangam: China’s Huawei Clones Are Greater Threat to National Security than Huawei
Broadband Mapping & Data3 months ago
Broadband Data From Providers Needs to be Checked With Data From Users, Say Panelists at Mapping Event
Open Access3 months ago
UTOPIA Fiber Announces Partnerships with Morgan, Utah, Idaho Falls, and Other Cities
Education3 months ago
State Educational Technology Officials Say Better Broadband Necessary for Pedagogy and Equity
FCC1 month ago
Telephony Industry Rises to the Challenge of Robocalls, With Legislation, Regulation and Enforcement Close Behind
FCC2 months ago
As Next Year’s C-Band Auction Looms, FCC Officials Reflect on Innovation in Spectrum Auctions
House of Representatives3 months ago
C-Band Hearing Showcases Divisions Over Auctions, Uses of Radio Frequencies