RTG filed comments yesterday opposing the FCC’s vague plan to direct USAC to “reclaim” high-cost support for some sort of broadband general fund for undetermined use at an undetermined time in the future. RTG argues that the FCC lacks the authority to use high-cost universal service contributions for anything other than high-cost support mechanisms. Specifically, RTG notes that:
- the FCC lacks the authority to collect high-cost contributions for any other purpose than precise universal service mechanisms and
- the Interim Cap Rule should be amended so that any reclaimed support should be redistributed to existing competitive ETCs.
“While the FCC’s plan to create a rainy day fund may be well intentioned, RTG’s fear is that reclaimed high cost funds may never be used for high cost purposes as set forth in the Act. The plan simply removes funds from rural America with no guarantee that the repurposed funds will ever be reinvested in rural America,” said Carri Bennet, RTG’s General Counsel.
The FCC’s plan effectively denies competitive ETC’s additional high-cost support that they expected, pursuant to the FCC Rules, would be available once Verizon Wireless and Sprint surrendered their support. The public interest will not be served by continuing to assess consumers for Verizon Wireless’s and Sprint’s “phantom” high-cost support when such support will sit idle while the FCC’s over-reaching broadband plans are, if at all, implemented. For the foregoing reasons, the FCC should not and cannot “reclaim” high-cost support for an unspecified future purpose.
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, RTG is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who 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. www.ruraltelecomgroup.org