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ACA to FCC: Mobility Fund For Rural 3G is Good Model for USF Reform

The American Cable Association has announced support for a Federal Communications Commission plan to provide limited funding for deployment of advanced wireless broadband networks in rural areas where private investment is unlikely to flow.

"Because the program as proposed by the FCC seeks to achieve a demonstrated need, is limited in scope and duration, and will distribute funding through competitive bidding, ACA believes the program can establish a valuable precedent for how the FCC should undertake reform of the much larger universal service fund," American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

The FCC plan would create a program called the Mobility Fund, which is one element in the overall reform of universal service funding proposed in the National Broadband Plan. The $300 million Mobility Fund is designed to provide one-time support for deployment of so-called 3G networks, improving coverage of current-generation or better mobile voice and Internet service for consumers in areas where such coverage is currently missing.

ACA is supporting the Mobility Fund even though the trade group has identified several weaknesses, including that it is not technology neutral, does not directly support broadband deployment, and may not completely solve the problem of wireless access in remote areas.

"The Mobility Fund should not be viewed as an expansive new fund to support deployment of wireless networks and operations in unserved or underserved areas. If that were the proposal, ACA would oppose its creation since the fund would replicate the many concerns with current universal support

mechanisms," Polka said. "The Mobility Fund has a well-defined goal - provide capital grants to deploy 3G infrastructure in unserved areas -- and limits funding to a maximum of $300 million, which largely comes from support relinquished by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel."

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