The American Cable Association is urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt reforms to the Universal Service Fund program along lines suggested by ACA and other organizations to counter ideas advanced by incumbent phone carriers.

“For the first time in our nation’s history, the FCC has a real opportunity to rely on the USF to fund broadband facilities and services in rural communities, which the country must include in the Internet revolution,” ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka said, in a statement. “Without a doubt, the FCC will fall short of its mission if major phone companies insist on ballooning the size of the high-cost fund and demand on receiving USF money in markets where they face competition or where competitors can offer service more efficiently.”
 
ACA’s position on USF policy was set forth in comments filed today at the FCC in response to a series of USF reform proposals recently submitted to the FCC, including one by a phone company coalition that included AT&T and Verizon. The plan, called America’s Broadband Connectivity or ABC, was billed as “transformational” but in the ACA’s view was simply a blueprint to continue, if not exacerbate, current flaws in the USF and intercarrier compensation (ICC) regimes.

“With the targeted fixes proposed by ACA, the FCC can correct significant flaws in the ABC plan and adopt an order that achieves the goal of fundamentally modernizing the USF to meet the nation’s broadband availability challenge,” Polka said.

As the debate moves ahead, ACA plans to urge the FCC to anchor USF reforms to ACA proposals unveiled several months ago, including adoption of a permanent cap on the $4.5 billion high-cost fund; distribution of funding to broadband providers on a competitively neutral basis; and elimination of current high-cost funding support for large phone companies within two years.

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