In early June, USTelecom – The Broadband Association, joined NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, in asking the FCC for changes to the budget control mechanism as it impacts RLEC loop support – for both CAF-Broadband Loop Support and/or High Cost Loop Support recipients.
In a letter to the FCC, UST supports NTCA’s previous request that the effectiveness of the FCC’S budget control mechanism be suspended for the remainder of the Covid-19 pandemic. UST then goes a step further, asking that the suspension be in effect for the duration of the coming 2020-2021 funding year.
UST pointed out that the recent USAC recalculation of the impact on the 2020-2021 budget will reduce USF for hundreds of rural companies and cooperatives by almost $40 million. At the same time, these RLECs are standing by their promises to both keep America connected and to have their networks performing at the highest levels.
The UST letter states, “Rural providers agree that the abeyance of the budget control mechanism would go a long way towards sustaining essential operations at a time when smaller providers are facing unprecedented challenges and uncollectible consumer accounts continue to rise and promise to go on, with an as of yet, undetermined end date.”
Both UST and NTCA have recognized the fact that RLECs are experiencing both unprecedented demand and customers unable to pay their bills – both due to Covid-19. The proposed suspension of the budget control mechanism will go a long way toward helping RLECs keep their commitments.