Originally published: July 11, 2012
Last updated: July 11, 2012 - 7:03pm
As the Federal Communications Commission transitions today’s voice-centric Universal Service program into a broadband program, the focus of those efforts is about to shift to the contribution side: How should money be collected from the telecom industry to fund the program?
Back in April the FCC gave stakeholders a couple of months to respond to this question and respond they did. Among those commenting were the American Cable Association, Comptel, the Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance, and USTelecom. In addition, several rural telecom carrier groups – including the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies and the Western Telecommunications Alliance – filed comments jointly. Contributions to today’s voice-focused Universal Service Fund are assessed as a percentage of service providers’ voice revenues – and several respondents suggested that a logical approach to the broadband Connect America Fund would be to base contributions on broadband revenues. Others, including the ITTA, suggested a “hybrid” approach that would assess a flat monthly fee for each working residential and business number and a tiered flat monthly charge for each connection to all other assessable services. The ITTA argued in a press release that this approach would decrease arbitrage opportunities by eliminating the self-classification of services by providers. Some commenters – including Comptel and the rural telco groups – suggested that enterprise broadband revenues be included in the revenue base used for calculating contributions.
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