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Associations support FCC efforts to deploy broadband in rural areas

09.17.15 – Associations representing rural rate-of-return carriers support the FCC’s efforts to assure reasonable and timely deployment of advanced telecommunications services, particularly in areas the associations’ members serve. RLECs have made substantial progress in deploying advanced networks in their communities – networks that often provide the backbone for local mobile services as well.

In comments filed in the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry on broadband deployment and availability, NTCA, WTA, ERTA and NECA agreed with the FCC’s tentative conclusions on the technical and marketplace differences between fixed and mobile broadband technologies, and said such services are complementary, not substitutes for one another. The associations agreed the proposed speed, latency and consistency benchmarks are reasonable national goals appropriate for purposes of analyzing availability, but are not appropriate now for other purposes such as high-cost and Lifeline support program administration.

The associations reemphasized the need for modernizing federal universal service support mechanisms to focus on broadband in areas served by rate-of-return companies to ensure deployment of advanced networks and services and ensure their sustainability over time as well. Specifically, the associations said the FCC should promptly act to implement their proposed RLEC CAF Plan, which would provide a workable solution to standalone broadband, among other issues.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to report annually to Congress on “whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” This Notice of Inquiry provides input for the FCC’s eleventh such report.