The Connect America Fund: Can it Bring "Comparable" Broadband Service to Rural Areas?
Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandates "comparable rates for comparable services in rural and urban America." The Act directs the FCC to ensure that equivalent communications services are available to all users, including those in rural, tribal, and insular areas. The FCC's Universal Service Fund has been a significant factor in ensuring the availability of these services, initially for voice, and now for broadband. The 2011 USF Transformation Order, the Connect America Order, the Rural Rate of Return Order, and the Connect America Fund Phase II and Mobility Fund Phase II Orders build on that Section 254 mandate by funding broadband deployment through revisions to the traditional funding methodology, as well as auctions aimed at increasing service deployment in these hard to serve areas.
This webinar will review these decisions and evaluate the potential for the success and/or failure of these programs. The panelists will also discuss funding the CAF programs and the programs' public interest obligations, budget, and eligibility requirements.
Honorable Crystal Rhoades, Commissioner, Nebraska Public Service Commission
Jonathan Banks, Senior Vice President, Law & Policy, USTelecom Association
Chris Murphy, Associate General Counsel, Regulatory Affairs, ViaSat
Mike Romano, Sr. Vice President, Policy, NTCA
Rebecca Murphy Thompson, EVP & General Counsel, CCA
Moderator: Sherry Lichtenberg, Ph.D., NRRI