NTCA, WTA, USTelecom to Congress: Do Not Eliminate ETC Designation at This Time

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In a recent letter to Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Representatives Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the three major broadband associations representing rural carriers expressed serious concerns about the proposed bill that would eliminate the ETC designation for certain broadband providers.

Calling the proposal “a solution in need of a problem in the context of the immediately upcoming RDOF auction,” the letter went on to point out that because, “some believe the ETC designation process may be outdated or in need of recalibration to better reflect a broadband world, this is a policy discussion worth having…But that discussion should neither alter nor undermine the course of an auction process that is already substantially underway…”

“The proposal would upend the careful balance struck by the FCC in the RDOF Order,” the letter continued, “and negate the rigorously transparent public comment process that informed it, which specifically considered and rejected calls to eliminate the FCC (ETC) requirement…In the context of the current RDOF auction, we therefore urge Congress to stay the course…”

ICORE agrees. Those RLECs that have applied for the auction are heavily involved in the process of planning and preparing their bidding strategies for an RDOF reverse auction that is only a few months away. Any fundamental changes now, when the application deadline has already passed, would be patently unfair.

We also wonder at the timing of this proposed legislation, so close to the RDOF auction.