As a broad-based coalition that has actively supported and participated in efforts to expand universal broadband availability and increase mobile connectivity for all Americans, we applaud the FCC’s laser focus on broadband as a critical infrastructure.
We also strongly support the FCC’s efforts to encourage universal broadband deployment by expanding and modernizing the complex federal Universal Service Fund (USF) and Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) rules. Expanding these programs from universal availability of plain old telephone service to the universal availability of broadband will provide Americans with the opportunity to reap the enormous economic, health, education and other benefits broadband can deliver.
Recently, key industry and association stakeholders have come together to forge and support the “America’s Broadband Connectivity Plan” (or ABC Plan), which both confirms universal access to broadband as a national priority and closely follows the FCC’s roadmap with respect to fundamental reforms in the USF and ICC rules on the books today.
We at IIA strongly support the ABC Plan, in particular its proposal to modernize USF and ICC rules to include broadband by creating a Connect America Fund (CAF) and an Advanced Mobility/Satellite Fund. We also commend the proposals to control the size of the fund and broaden its distribution base, require accountability from companies receiving support, and transition market-driven and incentive-based policies.
No household or business in America should be without access to affordable broadband services. The ABC Plan ensures that approximately four million rural homes and businesses in high-cost areas will have access to broadband — two million of which will enjoy the benefits of broadband for the first time. It will also encourage private investment and more effectively control the size of high-cost support, thereby limiting the burden these programs place on consumers.
It is generally recognized that current USF and ICC regulations, designed to support legacy voice services, are dated and in need of reform. We applaud the constructive work of the FCC and the organizations that participated in the formulation of the ABC Plan, and encourage the FCC to proceed with adopting and implementing the plan as soon as possible.
(To read our comments filed with the FCC on USF reform and the ABC Plan, visit here.)