Rep. Butterfield Bill Would Open Broadband Subsidies to More Cable ISPs

Capitol Building

As promised, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) has introduced a bill, the Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act, that would eliminate the ETC (eligible telecommunications carrier) requirement for accessing Lifeline broadband subsidies.

Butterfield represents a rural North Carolina that desperately needs broadband, he has said, but that qualified providers are being discouraged from participating in FCC subsidy programs due to the "outdated" state-by-state ETC reporting requirements.

Cable operators have long pushed to scrap the ETC requirement to open up subidies for more cable ops.

Also Read: FCC Sets Deadline for Non-ETCs

"The bill will enable more broadband service providers to participate in the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) programs by eliminating an outdated requirement that only internet service providers designated as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) may receive USF dollars," said Butterfield, adding: "Eliminating the ETC requirement will benefit low-income families in North Carolina and across the country by providing more choices for broadband service through the Lifeline Program while promoting competitive prices and high-quality service."

NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, was applauding.

“Getting broadband to unserved communities that need it most is an important priority for our industry. The Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act introduced today by Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) is legislation that takes important steps forward to achieving that goal and accelerating broadband deployment for more Americans," NCTA said in a statement. By retiring the eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) designation, more ISPs with a proven track record of operating broadband networks would compete for government support. Now is the time for Congress to remove barriers that deter ISPs from delivering broadband service so that every American can have access to this important resource.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.