Rural Telecom Associations Raise Concerns Over USF Reform

FCC, Universal Service July 18th, 2011

, Reporter,

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2011 – The FCC should consider costs and service areas of rural broadband customers as it reforms the Universal Service Fund (USF) to include broadband expansion, urged members of congress and rural telecom associations Thursday.

The rural telecom associations announced at the Capitol building the inauguration of a DC-based print advertising campaign to highlight the economic harm of the FCC’s current proposal. The associations believe that USF reform as it is presently being considered would result in lost jobs, poor health care coverage and stifled innovation due to blocked access to global markets.

“There was a recognition stated that we want what this Administration wants – broadband everywhere for everyone,” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NCTA), in a follow-up with Broadband Breakfast after the press conference, “but how we get there is complicated.”

The association – one of three major rural telecommunications associations in attendance – represents over 570 locally owned and controlled rural communications entities. The other two associations represented were the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO), and Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA).

”We have thousands of rural communities being well-served by small, independent companies who have built the infrastructure already and demonstrated their commitment and capabilities.  We don’t want those communities to lose what they already have if the FCC makes short-sighted decisions with long term consequences that will impact rural consumers and economies for years to come,” said Bloomfield.

The associations have also taken to the web and social media under the campaign, “Save Rural Broadband,” to inform consumers of what they believe is at stake from the current FCC proposal.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) joined the rural telecom associations at the event.

Representatives from the FCC were not available for comment.

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