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Rather than continuing to treat the Connect America Fund “as if it were the Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) Fund,” the FCC should focus on the actual goal of universal service support: providing service to consumers, NCTA said in comments in response to the FCC's USF FNPRM. Comments were due Jan 28. NCTA said the FCC's distribution of CAF Phase I support in '12 benefited a small group of incumbent LECs and failed to “achieve its stated intent” for USF revamp. As the FCC implements Phase II of the CAF, the agency has asked for comments on CAF Phase I rules and feedback on plans for the next round of Phase I funding. NCTA wants the same terms offered to price cap LECs. Failing that, however, the FCC should roll the '12 funding into the future CAF Phase II mechanism, the trade group said, and let any qualified provider bid on the areas and number of unserved locations to which they will provide broadband, NCTA said. Meanwhile, the ACA called on the FCC to stay the course. With the funding allocated last year, the program's goal is in the process of being achieved. Until that is no longer the case, the FCC “need not substantially alter the program,” ACA head Matthew Polka said. As for distribution of “leftover” '12 Phase I incremental support, the FCC shouldn't add these funds to any 2013 distribution, ACA said. Rather, the agency should adopt one of its alternative proposals: Either add the amount to Phase II distribution or return the money by lowering the contribution rate. — The DOJ and FBI, backed by the Department of Homeland Security, asked the FCC not to act on the proposed takeover of Sprint Nextel by Japan's mobile carrier SoftBank until the agencies complete their review of related national security, law enforcement, and public safety issues. Stifel Nicolaus analysts expect the FCC to agree, as it has done in the past when the DOJ made similar requests. The analysts noted DISH said it wasn't making a filing at this time “due, among other things, to the uncertainty surrounding the ownership of Clearwire and DISH's continued negotiations” with Clearwire board members “to acquire the company or certain assets of the company.” Dish said it intends to participate in reply comments due on Feb 25. The satellite company previously asked the FCC to put its review of the SoftBank/Sprint/Clearwire transactions on hold due to the uncertainty.

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