The ABC plan came in response to FCC proposals designed to direct billions of dollars in USF money to broadband deployment for the first time in the program's history in light of the Internet's rapid rise as an indispensable tool of commerce, learning and communication.
Key Capitol Hill lawmakers who have been concerned about USF's historic inefficiencies and lack of funding for broadband facilities and services expressed delight that this plan might lead to USF reform.
ACA's Polka said he looked forward to learning more about the AT&T-Verizon plan.
"As we all know, the specific terms and conditions of these proposals are critical. Until ACA has reviewed them in detail and discussed them with the ACA Board, ACA is reserving final judgment. ACA intends to file comments with the FCC on the new proposals, providing feedback from the perspective of ACA's nearly 900 independent video, telephone and broadband providers serving smaller markets and rural areas, more than half of whom do so without any government assistance," Polka said.
Three trade groups representing small carriers -- the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) and the Western Telecommunications Alliance (WTA) -- expressed support for the proposal. It is expected that these associations will push for additional USF reforms at the FCC that are specific to rural telephone carriers, would fit into the ABC plan, and would be supported by large and mid-sized carriers.
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