NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association on Mar. 28 endorsed companion versions of the Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act, a bill introduced in both chambers of Congress to update the contribution mechanism that funds the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), which NTCA says is critical to promoting the availability and affordability of communications services for millions of Americans.
In the Senate, the new bill was introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., John Thune, R-S.D., John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan. Representatives Joe Neguse, D-Colo., Hal Rogers, R-Ky., Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas, Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives.
As explained by NTCA, the “contribution base” is composed of the revenues that fund the USF -- and it has declined dramatically over the last two decades as customers have migrated from traditional telecommunications services to broadband and other services that contribute at lower rates or not at all.
NTCA notes it has long advocated for expanding the contribution base so that the critical USF initiatives sit atop a stable and sustainable foundation. The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act would direct the FCC to complete a rulemaking to reform the contribution system within a year.
NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield explained:
“NTCA applauds the leadership in both chambers in seeking to chart a course for steadier long-term support of USF programs and promote achievement of our country’s universal service mission. As we continue to rely on broadband for just about every aspect of daily life, including working and learning remotely, the Universal Service Fund is key to making critical communications services both available and affordable. Efforts to examine and address continuing erosion in the system that funds the USF will be essential to achieve and sustain a shared vision of universal connectivity. We are therefore pleased to endorse the Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act.”
NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association represents more than 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies in rural areas across America.