Sunday, May 22, 2011

FTTH Council: Preserve High-Cost Universal Fund

The Fiber-to-the-Home Council is urging the FCC to maintain the High-Cost universal service fund. Failure to do so will threaten the nation's broadband universal service goals are achieved, according to a statement filed with the FCC.

In its filing, the Council said that continuing the High-Cost funding, which many rural telecommunications providers use to upgrade their broadband capabilities, will "maximize deployments of high-performance networks" in rural areas, while the fund's elimination would result in millions of rural residents not having enough bandwidth to access applications that will soon be standard in urban and suburban areas.

An estimated 8-10 million people live in areas where broadband providers are receiving support from the High-Cost fund.

The Commission is considering severely reducing the High-Cost portion of the Universal Service Fund that supports rural carriers who currently provide broadband services in high-cost areas. It would be replaced with a Connect America Fund (CAF), the aim of which would be to bring broadband to only unserved areas at a level of bandwidth that is generally below what is available in most urban and suburban communities - with a standard of about 4 Mbps for download and 1 Mbps for uploading.

The Council also cautioned that the possibility of ending the High-Cost fund has resulted in a number of private sector carriers already feeling the pinch from their lenders, who consider the continuation of the fund a critical factor in determining whether to make new loans for facilities upgrades.

"By enabling these wireline service providers to continue accessing the High-Cost fund, the Commission will ensure that many more users will have access to high-performance broadband services" as they continue to secure lending to upgrade their services and offer more bandwidth to rural customers, the Council said.


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