In response to the FCC’s request for comment on the competitive bidding rules, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association and RWA provided details about a proposed rural telco bidding credit. In recognizing the unique position and interest that rural telcos have in providing high-quality fixed and mobile broadband to rural communities, as well as their special status as designated entities under the law, the associations proposed a narrowly tailored 25% bidding credit for rural telephone companies that successfully bid in an area where they have eligible telecommunications carrier status. Capped at $10 million with protections to prevent abuse, this bidding credit would help ensure that rural telcos have a reasonable opportunity to obtain spectrum at auction to serve rural consumers.
NTCA and RWA issued the following statements regarding their joint filing:
“Rural telephone companies are committed to providing their customers with high-quality fixed and mobile broadband services. To do so, it is imperative for federal regulators to level the playing field with regard to access to spectrum and provide a reasonable opportunity for these rural telcos to participate in the upcoming incentive auction. The proposed narrowly tailored bidding credit will promote a competitive marketplace and innovation in the industry, as well as allow our members and other rural providers to offer consumers in the communities they serve access to the services they demand,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield.
“Congress and the FCC have recognized rural telephone companies for their provision of service to rural and remote areas, which are often unserved or underserved by larger carriers. Sparse population and unforgiving terrain in rural areas make financing spectrum acquisition an expensive and challenging task. Unless and until the carriers with a proven desire to serve these areas have a reasonable opportunity to obtain spectrum at auction, service to many rural communities will lag behind urban areas. A bidding credit for rural telcos advances important policy objectives and helps to ensure that rural consumers have access to fixed and mobile broadband,” said RWA Assistant General Counsel Daryl Zakov.
About NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. www.ntca.org.