NTCA: Over 250 organizations want USF contributions reform

Nov. 30, 2021
As stated by a new letter promoted by NTCA, "The USF is one of our nation’s most important tools for addressing the digital divide, but its outdated funding mechanism puts the program in danger of collapse."

On Nov. 29, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the Ad Hoc Telecom Users Committee, the Cloud Communications Alliance, INCOMPAS, Public Knowledge, and the SHLB Coalition led a broad-based group consisting of 254 organizations in publishing a letter calling on broadband policymakers to repair the Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution mechanism.

As stated by NTCA:

The USF is one of our nation’s most important tools for addressing the digital divide, but its outdated funding mechanism puts the program in danger of collapse and is placing inequitable burdens on the consumers that often ultimately contribute.

In today’s letter, the signatories – which include public interest groups, consumer organizations, anchor institutions, trade associations, and broadband service providers, including more than 180 NTCA members – are asking policymakers to immediately reform and stabilize the funding mechanism, and to make contribution obligations more equitable, by adding broadband internet access services (BIAS) to the list of services that pay into the USF.

NTCA's statement further noted that "the merits of this approach were examined in the recent 'USForward' report by USF expert Carol Mattey, which estimated that including BIAS revenues would shrink the USF fee from nearly 30 percent to less than four percent for the foreseeable future."

NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield commented:

“NTCA recognizes that there are additional steps that can and should be considered in promoting our nation’s universal service objectives. But this mission is too important to ‘make the perfect the enemy of the better’ by deferring any reform at all when steps can be taken now under existing authority to stabilize the essential USF programs even as others are considered. Today’s call to action charts out an important step forward in sustaining universal service. We are pleased to be a part of such a broad group of stakeholders supporting such reform, and we look forward to further conversations – and action – to shore up the USF for years to come.”

 NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association represents nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are advancing efforts to close the digital divide by delivering robust and high-quality services over future-proof networks. To learn more, visit www.ntca.org.

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