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NECA tariffs and pools: where membership has its rewards

The presidential election is many months away, but an equally important election, for rural telcos at least, takes place from now until March 1 - the annual NECA tariff election. With the many challenges you're facing in these uncertain regulatory times, we can't recall a more crucial time for you to be a participant in NECA's tariffs and pools.

Between the complexities and reporting requirements introduced by pending FCC USF and ICC reform, staying current with advancing technology, and planning for the future, you have your hands full. That's where our unique expertise can help.

NECA is ready to help its pool members with the next round of changes to high cost funding and broadband cost recovery. We will be providing pool members help with all aspects of the FCC rule changes, including reducing the administrative burdens to the extent possible, impact analysis on the changes and, most important, helping to ensure your data is filed on time and in compliance with regulatory requirements.

Tariffs keep pace with emerging technology

We continue to seek innovative tariff solutions to address the changing marketplace. We update the access tariff by adding new services that keep up with the rapid change in technology and network deployments along with expanding consumer demands. For a review of recent tariff enhancements and what to expect in 2016, see 2016 tariff efforts to build on 2015 initiatives .

One particular innovation, rate banding, gives you the ability to charge rates closer to your actual costs and demand, a win-win solution: lower-cost companies can charge lower rates, allowing them to retain customers they might otherwise lose; higher-cost companies continue to receive settlements from the pool to recover their costs at rates lower than they would charge outside the pool.

Our Rate Band Buy Down option gives you even more flexibility by allowing you to charge rates using a lower rate band than the one initially assigned by NECA, provided the rates are above your company's direct cost. This gives you the ability to reduce rates while still enjoying all the benefits of participating in NECA's tariff. You can be more competitive in response to requests for proposal, as well as expand deployment of and demand for broadband services.

Pool members share risks and rewards, receive timely settlements

Our revenue pools enable rural companies to spread the cost of providing interstate access, making it possible to serve even the most remote places. Members receive timely, accurate settlements and stable monthly cash flows. This is the hallmark of our pooling process, one that we've been doing successfully month-in, month-out for over 30 years.

The tariff ratemaking process is a key component in this effort. The forecasting process used by our tariff experts to develop pool rates is more than simply projecting past trends; rather, it reflects network construction plans, budgets and regulatory changes. For example: are you planning to upgrade your network to add a new fiber project? Are you installing a new packet switch? Are you providing wireless backhaul from a cell site? All these factor into projections used to develop accurate rates for the next tariff period.

Pooling protects members against unexpected cash flow disruptions from unforeseen events that can cause large changes in forecasted costs or demand such as natural disasters, or loss of large customers due to competition, relocation or bankruptcies. These risks are shared among pool members, minimizing effects on your company. Outside of the pool you would have to shoulder the entire burden of extraordinary cost increases or revenue shortfalls by yourself. With pooling individual company changes in forecasted costs and demand are averaged out among all pool members, making for increased stability in monthly cash flows.

NECA works directly with the FCC on your behalf

Our regulatory expertise includes closely monitoring FCC activity with regard to access tariffs and rule changes, taking action to support your needs and keeping you informed of how these complex matters affect you. We work directly with FCC staff to clarify and resolve issues relating to intercarrier compensation, universal service funding, and many other issues, so you don't have to expend your efforts in this increasingly complex area. By developing, filing and defending tariffs before the FCC, we save you time and money and allow you to focus on serving your customers.

Whenever FCC activity requires action on your part, we assist with necessary certifications and make timely filings to help ensure you receive all the support to which you are entitled.

Training options tailored to meet your needs

You can also take advantage of our free training sessions on a wide variety of topics, from the basics to advanced subjects such as the latest FCC changes to universal service funding or technological advances in our access tariff. Many of these sessions are webcasts, so you can receive training without spending time out of the office and avoid the associated travel costs. In the last two-year period ending September 2015, we held 137 classroom sessions and 183 webcasts with a total of more than 17,000 attendees.

In some cases, we'll even provide training right in your office. Your member service team is only a phone call away when you need a question answered regarding interpretation of the tariff, recent changes due to USF and ICC reform, or any other topic.

We're here for you

NECA is dedicated to providing outstanding member service and communications, which you have come to expect from us as we work together through the transitions facing the industry. We are committed to helping you adapt to the new regulatory landscape and continuing to deliver the vital communications services needed to keep your customers connected. 

Filed under January 2016, Tagged with NECA, Pooling

Senior Editor - Linda Zinner 
Editor - Rocky Marcelle     

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