Modest Changes To The Rules Would Ease Burdens, Promote Competition
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, February 11, 2019 – The American Cable Association has asked the Federal Communications Commission to make discrete, targeted changes to the rules that govern contributions to the Universal Service Fund (USF) to make the process fairer and less costly for smaller operators. ACA encourages the FCC to adopt these modest modifications without further delay as part of its “biennial review” of telecom regulations.
“Every two years the FCC must review its telecom rules and repeal or modify ones that no longer serve the public interest. Under the USF contribution rules, smaller operators incur excessive legal and administrative costs and often pay more than their fair share,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. “ACA has identified steps that the FCC can take to address these narrow concerns that do not require the agency first to resolve the many complex questions at issue in its open proceeding on contributions reform.”
In comments filed in the FCC’s biennial review proceeding, ACA encouraged the FCC to raise the de minimis contributions exemption and to base it solely on a provider’s revenues rather than on projected annual contributions.
“These changes will make the exemption easier to apply and will ensure that smaller operators that were originally intended to qualify for the exemption still qualify,” Polka said.
ACA also asked the FCC to adjust the safe harbor that many smaller operators rely on to determine the percentage of their revenues that are derived from interstate and international traffic.
“The current, wildly inflated safe harbor percentage of 64.9 percent is based on outdated assumptions. It bears no resemblance to actual VoIP traffic patterns in today’s environment,” Polka said. “As a result, smaller providers that use the safe harbor—and their customers—overpay.”
ACA recommended that the FCC reset the safe harbor at 22.1 percent, a figure based on actual traffic data reported by the FCC.
Finally, ACA asked the FCC to streamline traffic study filing requirements for VoIP providers, in part by eliminating the need for quarterly traffic studies. Providers that use traffic studies to allocate revenues would still prepare an annual traffic study, which is the basis for determining a provider’s actual contribution liability in a given year.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 700 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit: https://www.americancable.org/