The FCC’s plan to phase-out USF support for rural wireless carriers without substitute support from a well developed and functioning Connect America Fund is a formula for disaster for all Americans who live, work and travel in rural America.
Washington, D.C. – The Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) filed Reply Comments today on the FCC’s comprehensive proposals to reform the universal service fund (USF). RTG’s reply comments focus on the many portions of the NPRM that pose a serious threat to the continued availability of wireless service in rural areas. RTG’s reply comments also speak to those commenters who fail to understand that many of the FCC’s proposed changes to the USF will harm employment in rural areas, further deflating rural economies and slowing the overall economic recovery process in the U.S.
Rural consumers rely heavily on mobile services. For most rural consumers, it is the small, rural wireless carrier that provides the most robust coverage in high-cost rural areas because of their long-standing commitment to serving the area. Utilizing ongoing support from the high-cost portion of the USF, these small, rural wireless carriers build out robust networks beyond the cities and highways served by nationwide carriers. In addition to the Public Safety benefits of wireless, the industries that make up much of rural economies, such as the agricultural industry, alternative energy industry, and oil and natural gas extraction industries, all rely on robust rural wireless networks to keep their businesses functioning.
Wireless has the ability to play a major role in the country’s broadband future, especially in high-cost rural areas. In fact, at TIA 2011 in Dallas last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proclaimed, “the world is going mobile: there are over 300 million mobile subscribers in the U.S., and mobile broadband is being adopted faster than any computing platform in history.” To ensure that rural America too “goes mobile” and fully participates in the country’s broadband future, RTG urges the Commission to make decisions that
- are technology neutral;
- support at least one fixed and one wireless carrier in every area;
- provide ongoing support to keep existing wireless networks fully functional; and
- fund only ETCs – those carriers who have subjected themselves to regulatory scrutiny and are willing to be held accountable after receiving support.
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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