There is nothing quite as contentious as any proposed changes to current intercarrier compensation or universal service programs, even though many would argue the programs no longer work very well.

The U.S. “Connect America Fund” represents billions of dollars worth of support for broadband suppliers in unserved and underserved rural areas. As you would expect, potential suppliers are going to fight over those funds, including the matter of eligibility. One clear fight is between some fixed line providers on one hand and wireless providers of several types, including satellite providers, mobile providers and fixed wireless providers as well. But there also is contention between fixed line providers.

Independent rural telcos have complained that a disproportionate amount of those underserved areas are served by AT&T and Verizon Communications, preferring that funds be earmarked only for smaller and independent companies and cooperatives. Satellite providers in the United States and Europe think they should be eligible providers.

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Separately, European satellite broadband providers are lobbying the European Commission to provide public funding for the rollout of satellite broadband across Europe, and U.S. satellite broadband providers have asked the Federal Communications Commission for similar inclusion in the CAF.

Such discord is par for the course, as support mechanisms are crucial for rural cooperatives and telcos.

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