As USAC Announces Cuts in HCLS and CAF BLS Support, Pai Responds

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USAC recently announced that application of the FCC’s budget control mechanism would reduce USF support for small Rate-of-Return RLECS by 15.52% over the course of the next year. “As required by the…Rate of Return Order,” they said, “USAC is required to calculate total support available to Rate of Return carriers.” Did they mention that they were required to do this?

In response to USAC’S statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a strong message showing his support for small, rural RLECs. “The prior Administration’s budget control mechanism has created constant uncertainty” for these carriers, he stated, “endangering their ability to make long-term investment decisions to bring high-speed broadband to the millions of Americans who still lack it.” That is why, he explained, the FCC allocated $180 million to small ILECs earlier this year as a “stop-gap measure.”

But, Pai continued, “now small carriers are facing even more service cuts in the coming year.” He pointed to the importance of the recently issued NPRM concerning the Connect America Fund Support Available for Rate-of-Return Carriers. Among other things, it seeks comment on the budget control mechanism and other potential reforms to FCC rules “to give small carriers greater investment certainty and to create incentives for more efficient operations.”

As reported in our last blog, ICORE will be offering comments in this key proceeding. We thank Chairman Pai for the opportunity, and even more, for his genuine interest in universal, advanced broadband service in rural America, and the welfare of small, rural ILECS that provide it.