NTCA “Agrees With Substance of the Groups’ Modifications”
Either Delay in Vote or Vote for “Plan B” Very Damaging for Rural America and Slows Deployment of Broadband to “Last 15%”
WASHINGTON – The Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) and the Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA) today strongly urged the FCC to keep the comprehensive intercarrier compensation – universal service reform plan on its Nov. 4 agenda for a vote. On Friday, Oct. 31, four FCC commissioners requested that FCC Chairman Martin delay the vote on the negotiated comprehensive plan. According to analysts’ reports, in response, the Chairman has distributed a “Plan B” to vote on if the commissioners continue to decline voting for the comprehensive plan. “Plan B” includes immediate reverse auctions, no broadband requirements, a new cap on the entire Universal Service Fund, and would be very damaging for rural America.
OPASTCO and WTA believe that a delay in the vote for the comprehensive plan, as negotiated by the two associations, means Plan B will become reality and will have extremely negative consequences for rural carriers and the rural customers they serve. “We worked in good faith with the FCC, communicating with all of the FCC commissioners’ offices to ensure that each office understood the negative affects a plan without these modifications would create,” OPASTCO President John Rose stated. “Delaying the vote from Nov. 4th will make it virtually impossible for the FCC to achieve such a beneficial comprehensive plan for rural areas.”
On Oct. 30, Communications Daily reported that “NTCA agrees with the substance of the groups’ modifications…,” according to Dan Mitchell, NTCA legal vice president.
“Cries to delay the vote, based purely on procedure and not on the impact the delay will have on rural ILECs’ ability to serve customers, are not in the best interest of rural America,” WTA Executive Vice President Kelly Worthington stated. “It will delay, perhaps indefinitely, the deployment of broadband to the last 15 percent, those customers who are isolated and very difficult to serve.”
The negotiated comprehensive intercarrier compensation – universal service reform plan offers the following benefits:
-Positive language addressing phantom traffic;
-Eliminating the identical support rule;
-Ensuring all rural carriers that are rate-of-return (RoR) regulated in the interstate jurisdiction automatically qualify for recovery of revenues associated with decreases in access rates;
-Ensuring all RoR carriers are able to recover revenues due to decreases in minutes of use
(MOU) and access lines over the next five years;
-Ensuring rural carriers are not financially responsible for transporting local calls beyond the boundaries of their local service areas;
-Allowing for automatic exceptions for the use of satellite to meet broadband build-out
-Allowing rural carries who have made large broadband network investments in 2007 and
2008 to recover their investments.