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ACA Urges FCC To Reform USF While Keeping Special Nees Of Small Voice Providers In Mind

The American Cable Association urged the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that voice providers with 100,000 service lines or fewer must not lose access to USF funding under any interpretation of ACA's own proposal that would eliminate subsidies to telephone carriers that face competition in their markets from entities not dependent on government financial support.

"ACA agrees with those who believe that USF reform is needed to bring program costs under control and finance the new mission of providing support to operators that would provide broadband to consumers in unserved and underserved areas," American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. "However, ACA does not believe that cutting off small voice carriers that receive the lion's share of their revenue from USF mechanisms cold turkey would, as some have suggested, serve the public interest."

The views expressed in this proceeding are part of ACA's comprehensive USF reform proposal that would cap the size of the $4.4 billion high-cost fund and withdraw support from large voice providers and all wireless providers that face competition from entities that have demonstrated they can compete against incumbents without USF support. Realized savings would provide the FCC with billions of dollars on a recurring basis to support broadband deployment projects for the first time in the agency's 76-year history.

"ACA's plan achieves in elegant fashion the twin goals of USF reform and financial support of broadband deployment. It also offers assurances to small phone companies, especially those with 100,000 access lines or fewer, that their traditional reliance on USF to keep basic phone rates stable and affordable won't be involuntarily withdrawn," Polka said.

ACA's comments came in response to an FCC public notice seeking comment on USF reform proposals advanced by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Unlike ACA, NCTA would employ a competitive-carrier test to all incumbent phone carriers receiving USF support, regardless of the number of subscriber access lines that have been placed into service by any particular carrier.

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