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NCTA Takes On CenturyLink Over Stimulus Funds for Overbuild

WASHINGTON — Cable operators continue to push
the camel’s nose of “underserved” back under the tent.

From broadband-stimulus funding guidelines to
Universal Service reforms, the National Cable & Telecommunications
Association is concerned about toobroad
definitions of
unserved areas that
could wind up in government-
backed overbuilds
of areas where
their members are already providing service.

In the latest parry of that thrust, the NCTA has asked
the Federal Communications Commission to deny a petition
by telco CenturyLink to waive the requirement
that the first tranche of its new Connect America Funding
(CAF) go only to areas unserved by an unsubsidized
fixed broadband provider.

The FCC, in reforming the Universal Service Fund
and launching the migration of phone subsidies to a
Connect America broadband-subsidy fund, chose not
to allow overbuilding incumbents who do not meet
certain criteria related to data usage or speeds or price.
The NCTA does not want the FCC to chip away at that
decision with waivers.

The NCTA reminded the FCC of why it didn’t go there
in the first place. “[The] commission listed several reasons
for denying this request, including the importance of focusing
limited resources to extend broadband to people
who lack any service, the prohibition on allowing CAF support
to be spent to overbuild unsubsidized competitors,
and the lack of record evidence about the level of prices
and usage limits that would be required to allow overbuilding,”
NCTA lawyers said. “None of the commission’s
policy goals have changed.”


“Unserved” areas should be
served first, cable says.