Today, RTG filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking proposals to reform and modernize the methodology for assessing and recovering Universal Service Fund (USF) support.

The FCC must take forward-looking action in order to build a sustainable base of USF contributors. All providers of broadband Internet access services and all providers of non-interconnected or “one-way” Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) service must be required to contribute to the USF. Now that universal service has been reformed to support broadband networks, providers of broadband Internet access service and one-way VoIP providers that have not had to contribute to universal service in the past must be required to do so.

Additionally, RTG urges the Commission to ensure that network beneficiaries also help support the USF. RTG advocates for a new USF contribution methodology that splits the contribution obligation fairly between network operators and network beneficiaries. Network beneficiaries encumber networks with large amounts of traffic and have business models that would not be possible or profitable without the existence of a ubiquitous national broadband network. These larger beneficiaries should assist in ensuring that all consumers have access to their services.

“The FCC’s current USF contribution system is becoming increasingly outdated and increasingly unfair, as evidenced by the fact that mobile wireless carriers contribute a substantial amount to the USF, but have seen their USF support decimated under the Commission’s comprehensive USF reforms. In order to have a truly equitable and nondiscriminatory USF contributions methodology, as required by the Communications Act, the Commission must ensure that all those that benefit from broadband networks are helping to support them by contributing to the USF. Requiring these entities to support the USF will result in more robust networks, which will in turn benefit consumers and those entities whose business models depend on broadband access,” stated Carri Bennet, RTG’s General Counsel.

About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who each serve less than 100,000 subscribers. RTG’s members have joined together to speed delivery of new, efficient and innovative telecommunications technologies to remote and underserved communities. ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless

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