Troubled by the direction in which the FCC’s National Broadband Plan initiative and policy on Universal Service Fund reform is shifting, more than 40 rural telecommunications carriers across 25 states announced the formation of the new Rural Broadband Alliance, a lobbying and public interest group whose efforts will focus on advocacy, grassroots support and education.

“The goal of the new Alliance is to demonstrate to FCC officials and policy makers that they can achieve the goals of the Broadband Plan by building on programs and policies, like USF, that work instead of untested gimmicks that may look good to policy wonks on paper but have no relevance to the markets we serve,” Keith Oliver, SVP of Home Telephone Company of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, was quoted as saying in a news release

Currently being reviewed, the FCC’s plans for USF reform are part of the National Broadband Plan, which the agency presented to Congress in March.
Sen. Rick Boucher, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee chairman in late July introduced a bill that would overhaul the Universal Service Fund, the original objective of which was to extend affordable telephone services to rural communities across America. That focus has now shifted from telephony services to broadband. 

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Boucher’s bill would extend the USF’s support base to include broadband service, expand its support base and require the FCC to come up with a new method for calculating the cost to contributing telecoms carriers that includes provision of both voice and broadband services.

It appears as if the Rural Broadband Alliance is being organized by industry veteran Steve Kraskin, but there is no website established yet.

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9 thoughts on “Rural Broadband Alliance is Born

  1. Is it better to have all these different associations speaking to the FCC or to have a single unified industry voice? Maybe the latter is impossible, given all the personalities.

      1. Tom- I think the problem is that we are a small group of telcos with limited resources. By spreading those resources among even more rural groups, I don't feel that we can be as effective as if we combined them and had ONE rural voice. It's tough enough to get members in one association to all believe/deliver the same message- let alone getting the associations to work together. While much of the message will be similar, I'm afraid our fragmented voice will lead policymakers to dismiss our concerns as an industry that doesn't know what they want.

        Nothing against the rural associations, but imagine if we took what we were paying as dues to all of them and funneled them to one group. Imagine the quantity and caliber of talent we could hire for that money. Perhaps we could even have a national marketing campaign to bring our issues to light of the voting public as our plight is much more than just the survival of telephone companies- it is the survival of rural America.

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