Skip to main content

NCTA Wants To Cap USF/Intercarrier Comp Reform Fund At $4.5 Billion

In the wake of the telecom industry's compromise proposal, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association has filed some additional cable industry thoughts on Universal Service Fund and intercarrier compensation reform, pointing out what it likes about that plan and what additional issues the Federal Communications Commission should keep in mind given that cable operators provide broadband "to the vast majority of the nation."
That includes not letting telcos hang on to legacy payments any longer than is necessary.
NCTA says three elements of the telco's proposals are "critical" to effective reform and delivering broadband to areas that do not currently get it: 1) capping the current fund at $4.5 billion; 2) subsidizing service only where there is no unsubsidized provider offering service and 3) there should be a specific and "symmetrical" transition for reforming intercarrier compensation rates--the rates networks charge each other for exchanging traffic.
But NCTA has other reform thoughts in addition to those offered up by its telco competitors.
Those include that any subsidies to mobile should be included in the $4.5 billion cap, not in addition to it.
NCTA also calls the FCC's National Broadband Map a good starting point for determining whether there are unsubsidized carriers in an area, but should also give carriers an opportunity to show where the map has gotten it wrong.
The cable group argues that support from the fund, which is being migrated from phone to broadband subsidies in high-cost areas, should be technology-neutral, going to the most efficient provider and no right of first refusal for incumbent telcos.
NCTA also wants the FCC to phase out legacy telco support as quickly as possible after the migration to broadband funding mechanism is established. "It would be wasteful to allow incumbent LECs to continue receiving legacy high-cost support in excess of the broadband funding amount for any period of time in that area."
NCTA says that intercarrier comp needs "confirm" that intercarrier comp applies to its VOiP-originated or terminated traffic. The group says there have been problems with carriers filing to pay cable operators, including complaints, and that nothing in the reforms should affect that "pending litigation."