Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

Rural Telecom Associations Band Together for Unified Approach to Universal Service Reform

May 20, 2010
5/19/10 at 8:28 AM by Bernie Arnason

There is a big fight brewing in Washington – one whose outcome will have far reaching implications for rural broadband carriers. The issue is the multi-billion dollar universal service fund, and the fight revolves around its reform. As a result, many of the leading trade associations representing the interests of rural telephone companies have banded together for a ‘unified rural position.’

The unified movement includes the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA), the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), the Organization for the Promotion of Small Telephone Companies (OPASTCO), and the Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA). That’s a mouthful. These groups have agreed to respond to the upcoming National Broadband Plan’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment on the FCC’s proposals regarding Cost Modeling and Universal Service Reform.

In a letter to its joint members the coalition outlined several key positions they will advocate for:

  • Network design based on funding only 4 Meg in rural areas is shortsighted and creates a digital divide compared to 100 Meg in urban areas.
  • RLECs have made significant investments in multi‐use, broadband capable networks which serve 37% of the national geography. Their continued ability to provide comparable telecommunications services to rural Americans is vital to our nation’s economic development, national security and public health and safety.
  • These investments have been made possible due to a time‐tested cost‐recovery structure consisting of rate‐of‐return regulation, NECA pooling, intercarrier compensation and USF support.
  • The FCC should now be looking to recreate this success story with a broadband focus and not undermine or ignore what has worked to achieve affordable and comparable services for rural consumers as required by the Communications Act.

There’s a lot at stake. Expect some considerable and heated debate, with some eventual ‘horse trading’ before this contentious issue gets resolved. Comments on the NPRM/NOI are due on July 12, with replies due on August 11.


FCC’s National Broadband Plan Released Today

March 16, 2010
3/16/10 at 10:08 AM by Joan Engebretson

The National Broadband Plan, to be released today, focuses on four ways government can help ensure that every American has access to broadband. These include, 1) designing policies to ensure competition; 2) ensuring efficient management of assets such as spectrum and rights of way; 3) reforming the Universal Service Fund to support broadband; and 4) reforming policies to maximize the benefits of broadband in government-influenced sectors. Such sectors include education, health care and government operations.

According to a FCC broadband plan executive summary released yesterday, the plan also will establish six longer-term goals “to serve as a compass over the next decade.” These include:

  • Connect 100 million households to affordable 100-megabits-per-second service, building the world’s largest market of high-speed broadband users and ensuring that new jobs and businesses are created in America.
  • Affordable access in every American community to ultra-high-speed broadband of at least 1 gigabit per second at anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals, and military installations so that America is hosting the experiments that produce tomorrow’s ideas and industries.
  • Ensure that the United States is leading the world in mobile innovation by making 500 megahertz of spectrum newly available for licensed and unlicensed use.
  • Move our adoption rates from roughly 65 percent to more than 90 percent and make sure that every child in America is digitally literate by the time he or she leaves high school.
  • Bring affordable broadband to rural communities, schools, libraries, and vulnerable populations by transitioning existing Universal Service Fund support from yesterday’s analog technologies to tomorrow’s digital infrastructure.
  • Promote competition across the broadband ecosystem by ensuring greater transparency, removing barriers to entry, and conducting market-based analysis with quality data on price, speed, and availability.
  • Enhance the safety of the American people by providing every first responder with access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable public safety network.

“The National Broadband Plan is a 21st century roadmap to spur economic growth and investment, create jobs, educate our children, protect our citizens and engage in our democracy,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in announcing the delivery of the plan to Congress. “It’s an action plan, and action is necessary to meet the challenges of global competitiveness and harness the power of broadband to help address so many vital national issues.”

In the coming weeks, we plan to offer much more detail about this plan and its implications fro broadband carriers, large and small. Stay tuned.


February 22, 2010

WASHINGTON, February 17, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of eleven Broadband Infrastructure projects to enable rural residents in nine states to have access to improved economic and educational opportunities. Funding for the projects is being provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law by President Obama a year ago today. Additionally, USDA and The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have announced that a second filing window for broadband applications opened this week.

Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement. Below is a complete list of recent Recovery Act Broadband award recipients by state:


  • Smithville Telephone Company, Inc.: $37,729,143 loan. The funding will provide 3,815 households, 209 businesses, and 12 community anchor institutions with access to broadband service.


  • Southeast Iowa Rural Wireless Broadband: $3,836,926 loan. The funding will provide Internet services to 80 rural communities using proven wireless technology.


  • Mountain Rural Telephone Cooperative Corporation (MRTCC) ILEC Broadband: $39,843,535 loan and $38,281,044 grant. The funding will provide fiber to Morgan, Menifee, Wolfe, and Elliott counties that will result in 20 Mbps bandwidth to end users.


  • Allen’s Cable – Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Broadband Network Extension: $3,584,680 loan and $3,513,697 grant. The funding will extend fiber into rural areas of three South Louisiana Parishes.
  • LBH, LLC, – Rural Broadband Powered by Fiber: $16,693,439 loan and $16,691,939 grant. The funding will expand existing broadband into rural areas around Moss Bluff, Oakdale, and Vinton.


  • Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group (SWMBG): $6,350,000 loan and $6,350,250 grant. The funding will provide service to eight rural communities throughout Southwest Minnesota.


  • Unionville, Missouri FTTP Project: $5,140,458 loan and $5,140,458 grant. The funding will provide broadband services to households, businesses, and key community organizations that are currently underserved in the Unionville area.

New Mexico

  • Western New Mexico Telephone Company, Broadband Infrastructure Project: $11,516,679 grant. The funding will provide last mile broadband services to remote and unserved locations and critical community facilities throughout Western New Mexico.
  • Baca Valley Telephone Company, Inc.: $1,651,000 loan and $1,586,000 grant. The funding will expand fiber optics to Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) nodes in rural Northeastern New Mexico, replacing outdated deteriorating copper wire and low bandwidth microwave transport systems in some areas, while providing new connectivity in others, and enabling advanced, high-speed DSL service throughout the area.


  • Sandy Broadband Infrastructure Project: $374,548 loan and $374,537 grant. The funding will provide broadband service to the underserved rural area of Sandy by improving and expanding wireless Internet service.


  • Southern Texas Broadband Infrastructure Development and Adoption Project: $40,093,153 loan and $38,520,868 grant. The funding will develop a broadband infrastructure in eleven unserved and underserved rural communities of the South Texas Plains.

To read the full article, go to:

Broadband Census Launches for News; Keeps For Public and Transparent Data Collection

November 19, 2009

Drew Clark, Editor,

WASHINGTON, November 19, 2009 – Today, Broadband Census News launches, a new daily web site with definitive and independent news on broadband stimulus funding, wireless internet, and the national broadband plan.

This new domain,, will be used for the journalistic operations of Broadband Census News LLC — our company’s news subsidiary — and will cover broadband technology and internet policy. Our reporters are passionate about broadband, and we aim to maintain our focus on core issues of broadband technology and internet policy.

Meanwhile, the web site has been relaunched for the purposes of Broadband Census Data LLC: ensuring that the public has free and transparent access to basic and granular broadband information about broadband Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition.

To read the full article, go to:

Broadband Is This Generation’s Highway System

August 5, 2009

There is an interesting article by Ryan Singel of WIRED Magazine, highlighting the FCC’s ongoing attempt to craft the nation’s first broadband plan.  In this article, Singel points out that FCC is planning a very ambitious proposal for the country’s IT infrastructure, a plan that goes beyond simply giving grants to get YouTube and Twitter to farmers. 

An ambitious plan is just what Obama and Congress asked for, according to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school classmate of President Barack Obama’s.   Congress has ordered the FCC to deliver a plan next February, they specified that the plan was supposed to do more than just encourage the spread and adoption of broadband.  The third prong was to create a plan that enhanced national priorities, including health, anti-terrorism, education and disaster preparedness.  For the full article, go to: