Posts Tagged ‘National Broadband Strategy’

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 May Cost $25 Billion

March 5, 2010
3/2/10 at 11:10 PM by Bernie Arnason

In about two weeks the FCC is scheduled to deliver a national broadband plan to Congress. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 mandated that the FCC author the plan, with the idea that the billions of dollars that are being allocated to broadband infrastructure should be wisely invested. The broadband stimulus plan allocates $7.2 billion towards the broadband cause. It appears to be a down payment.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FCC’s national broadband plan will call for an additional $25 billion in spending. Of that $25 billion, approximately half or more will be allocated to a nationwide broadband public safety network for first responders. The FCC hopes to pay for this portion through future wireless spectrum auction proceeds. Additionally, the plan calls for $9 billion in funding for bringing broadband to rural areas. But it’s not entirely clear where that funding will come from.

The universal service fund (USF) is also addressed in the plan. Much of its current $8 billion budget would be reallocated towards broadband service, away from its current legacy phone service focus. The FCC believes it can clean up significant waste in the current USF, allowing it to address its new broadband mission without significant increases in its budget. Determining and rooting out this so called waste should be an interesting process to watch.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that large ISPs (cable and telco) will probably be happy with the plan, as it won’t force their hand on much. That’s not surprising. As I wrote this post (in approximately 30 minutes or so) in suburban Washington D.C., I counted three or more broadband lobbyist commercials on the 10:00 news.

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: