Is NTCA Fighting 24/7 for USF Funding? You Bet!

Is NTCA Fighting 24/7 for USF Funding? You Bet!

I had a very active, engaged and proactive member contact me today on an industry issue and in the course of the exchange, asked if NTCA is doing anything in regards to high cost USF support for both cost-based members as well as our ACAM companies – and while it made me a little sad that we have yet to find the “magic bullet” of communications to show all of our members what we have been up to on the USF funding, I wanted to at least share additional thoughts here…

We share our member’s frustration that the March 2016 reforms hit extremely hard upon many who had done the most to date to build broadband, and that the promise of those reforms continues to be undermined first and foremost by an insufficient USF budget.

Please know that NTCA has hardly been quiet on this issue. In fact, I don’t think you could find an individual or group that has been more vocal about the budget shortfalls and how they are harming small carriers and rural Americans than NTCA. Just to share an overview of what we’ve done – and this isn’t all we’ve done in terms of publicity/outreach/lobbying activity/etc., but these are just some of the most pertinent filings that are relatively easy to pull and gather together:

First, here’s all the testimony NTCA-sponsored witnesses delivered before Congressional committees in 2017 claiming that underfunding of USF is hurting rural LECs. I don’t know of any other telecom association that testified this much on any topic, never mind just one over and over . . . and this doesn’t include where Mike Romano got the chance in the net neutrality hearing to raise the USF budget based upon a question from a Colorado congressman.

I’m sure that folks will not go to these links but even as we laid them out, it amazed me at how active we have been but that doesn’t even include the hundreds of other discussions we have had with key policymakers and their teams.

March 2017 NTCA Bloomfield Senate Commerce Committee Testimony

June 2017 NTCA Romano House Small Business Committee Testimony

June 2017 NTCA Bloomfield Senate Commerce Committee Testimony

July 2017 NTCA Otwell House Ag Committee Testimony

September 2017 NTCA Law Senate Ag Committee Testimony

And here are all of our ex partes on full funding of USF, just in 2017 . . . but some stats first –

We filed 27 ex parte letters on budget issues in the 338-day period from Jan 27 when Pai became chairman through Dec 31.
If you assume that 2/7 of those days were weekends, that’s 27 ex parte letters in 242 working days, or an average of 1 ex parte letter on the budget every 9 working days.
And that doesn’t even take into account any holidays and the fact that some of these ex parte letters captured multiple actual meetings or calls. Factor those in – another 12 meetings or so – and we had an ex parte contact with the FCC about the USF budget about once every 6 working days in 2017.  That is a lot of talking with key folks!

11.29.17 NTCA telephone conversation with Chairman Pai’s advisor, J. Schwarz on high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

11.14.17 NTCA talks with wireline advisors J. Schwarz and A. Bender about high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

11.13.17 NTCA telephone conversation with C. Aiken re high-cost USF reforms, WC 10-90

11.13.17 NTCA’s Shirley Bloomfield’s conversation with Commissioner Rosenworcel re shortfalls in high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

11.03.17 NTCA meets with Commissioners O’Rielly and Clyburn’s legal advisors on high-cost USF reforms, WC 10-90

10.27.17 Premier Communications COO Ryan Boone meets with FCC Advisors on hight-cost USF support shortfalls, WC 10-90, et al

10.26.17 NTCA telephone conversation with Commissioner O’Rielly’s legal advisor, A. Bender, on outstanding issues re USF reforms, WC 10-90

10.10.17 NTCA meeting with A. Bender, legal advisor to Commissioner O’Rielly, on outstanding issues re USF reforms, WC 10-90

10.03.17 NTCA’s Shirley Bloomfield meets with Commissioner O’Rilley to discuss need to remedy shortfalls in high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

10-03.17 NTCA telephone conversation with Chairman Pai’s legal advisor, J. Schwarz, re shortfalls in high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

09.19.17 NTCA telephone conversations with legal advisors on high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

09.13.15 NTCA and NTCA members meet with legal advisors on high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

08.23.17 NTCA telephone conversation with Amy Bender, wireline advisor to Commissioner O’Rielly, re high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

08.18.17 NTCA telephone conversation with T. Litman, WCB, on high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

08.11.17 NTCA meeting with J. Schwarz, wireline advisor to Chairman Pai, re high-cost USF support, WC 10-90

07.28.17 NTCA telephone conversation with A. Bender on status of high-cost USF reconsideration issues and NTCA/USTelecom forbearance petition, WC 10-90, 06-122

07.20.17 NTCA meeting with C. Aiken re high-cost USF reconsideration issues and NTCA-USTelecom forbearance petition, WC 10-90, 06-122

06.16.17 NTCA’s CEO Bloomfield meets with Chairman Pai’s staff on USF, WC 10-90

05.02.17 NTCA and WTA meet with J. Schwarz, wireline advisor to Chairman Pai, WC 10-90

05.02.17 NTCA telephone conversations with FCC’s 8th floor advisors, WC 10-90

04.27.17 NTCA_ WTA meet with Commissioners O’Rielly’s and Clyburn’s legal advisors, WC 10-90

03.29.17 NTCA Members meet with Commissioner Clyburn advisor, WC 10-90

03.29.17 NTCA Members meet with Chairman Pai’s acting wireline advisor, WC 10-90

03.28.17 NTCA Members meet with Commissioner O’Rielly’s legal advisor, WC 10-90

03.20.17 NTCA meeting with O’Rielly and Pai offices, WC 10-90

03.02.17 NTCA’s CEO Shirley Bloomfield Meets with Commissioner Clyburn re USF Reform Issues, WC 10-90

02.02.17 NTCA Notice of Meetings with Legal Advisors, WC 10-90

As you can see, we’re not taking this sitting down – we know the pain this is causing in terms of planning for investment and recovering costs of delivering broadband, to the detriment of rural consumers. Please be assured that we’ll keep at it – 24/7!

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