WTA Files Comments on the Future of USF

Today, WTA submitted comments in response to the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry in the “Future of USF” proceeding.

WTA states that it is committed to ensuring that USF remains stable, predictable and sufficient for years to come, and stressed that the success of USF in getting quality broadband to many rural areas. The new BEAD and Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure grant programs “have the potential to make major strides toward closing the digital divide and attaining the ultimate goal of universal access by all Americans to reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband services” but in most high-cost, rural areas that will not be all that is required. There will always be a need for ongoing support for upgrades, maintenance, and repairs to networks as well as support to repay substantial outstanding loans incurred to fund prior broadband infrastructure investment.

The future USF should be focused on promoting Fiber-to-the-Home as it is the most robust, reliable and scalable broadband service technology. This requires a revision of the Commission’s principle of “technology neutrality” to one of “technology complementarity” for high-cost support purposes. Only in the most remote locations should other technologies be considered adequate for future needs.

On the contributions side, WTA reiterated its support for modernizing the methodology by which USF is funded so that pressure is relieved on long-distance voice customers and the burden of supporting the broadband network properly falls on the all users of today’s network.