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Capitol Hill Staffers Briefed on ABC Plan

By Daily Blog, AmericasBroadbandConnectivity.org (9/9/11)

  SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 --

America’s Broadband Connectivity Plan for reforming universal service and intercarrier compensation is a “huge step in the right direction, and will be a real benefit for rural America,” National Grange Legislative Director Nicole Payla Wood told Capitol Hill staffers September 8th at a Rural Caucus briefing. “We see rural America as a minority group when it comes to broadband,” Wood said.

More access to broadband will enable those living in rural areas to continue to have the same access to technology as their urban counterparts, she said. The ability to access broadband will help level the playing field for businesses, equalize educational opportunities and ensure that health providers in small towns can keep up their practices, Wood said.

The reform proposals outlined in the ABC Plan and the Consensus Framework embraced by trade associations representing the vast majority of rural Americans will transform the USF and ICC programs to support broadband, said Jonathan Banks, senior vice president of USTelecom. The plans enjoy broad and diverse support, from small to larger carriers, rural companies, companies focused on serving urban areas, and companies with wireless interests, Banks said. Change has been a long time coming, and difficult to achieve. “The FCC began the reform process 10 years ago. We came close once or twice but never as close as we are now,” Banks said.

The plans represent a “substantial step forward” in the reform process, said Mike Romano, senior vice policy of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association. The reforms will enable carriers to rely upon a predictable level of support, and recover investments already made while allowing for a predictable path for future investment. The plans also gives carriers the ability to provide a tailored approach to serve different parts of the country. Fundamental to the success of the plan is its goal of modernizing universal service for a broadband-capable world, Romano said.

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