Efforts have been underway for years to work with the FCC on ways to address consumer demands for broadband in the most hard-to-serve parts of our country where NTCA members live and serve their consumers. While we remain hopeful that targeted updates made by the FCC in this soon-to-be-released order will enable consumer choice of broadband on USF-supported networks and serve over time as a springboard for greater adoption and availability in rural America, we are still waiting for the opportunity to dig through the details of the order. However, that didn’t stop FCC Commissioner O’Rielly from taking a few minutes today to have a phone “chat” with the NTCA Board of Directors and members of our Industry and Regulatory Policy Committee.
Amid a number of other meetings today, including meeting with the communications-oriented leadership of the House and Senate, the commissioner took the time to share his principles for USF reform and to outline the process for the soon-to-be circulated order and subsequent actions. Final details of the order are still being refined prior to circulation, but the order soon will be “up and running.”
Policy development is never a straight-line process, but we are anxious to see the details of the order and to understand more fully their impacts on the diverse group of small businesses that serve rural America within our membership, and then to keep working with policymakers to ensure that the final result will provide predictable and sufficient support as mandated by the Communications Act, restore regulatory certainty to help justify long-term investments in rural networks, and promote and sustain a broadband future for rural consumers and the small carriers that serve them. So that is why it’s important to keep these discussions ongoing with critical policymakers like Commissioner O’Rielly.