Six of the nation’s leading broadband providers have submitted a proposal called “America’s Broadband Connectivity Plan” to the FCC to speed broadband deployment to more than 4 million Americans living in rural areas. They also announced an agreement with three organizations that represent small carriers on a framework for complementary reform.
The two complementary plans share key goals to modernize the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) so that it is focused on building and sustaining broadband networks without increasing the size of the fund and the plan is to reform the ICC system that governs how communications companies bill one another for handling traffic.
The six broadband providers AT&T, CenturyLink, FairPoint, Frontier, Verizon, and Windstream collectively serve the vast majority of the U.S. telecommunications customers including those residing in high cost rural areas.
Joining in support of the reform are the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies, and Western Telecommunications Alliance.
Key features of the plan are to:
• Define broadband as a minimum of 4 mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream to support education, healthcare, and other applications
• Connect virtually all Americans to broadband access within 5 years and do so without growing the $4.5 billion high-cost USF
• Target support to broadband deployment in areas where there is no business case for companies to provide service
• Promote efficiency by targeting support more precisely to identified high-cost areas and support only one provider in each area
Also consistent with the parameters outlined in the “National Broadband Plan, the companies proposal would modernize intercarrier compensation to provide certainty, stability, and a healthy foundation for growth to meet the needs of consumers.