Local phone company joins peers in criticism of FCC plan

Rural customers could see rates up, service down


    The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to meet Oct. 27 to act on the new rules, which will significantly impact rural Iowans.  Local telephone and Internet providers fear the new rules will hurt their ability to serve rural areas by redirecting their funding, which could lead to sharp price increases, degraded service and a larger digital divide.
     The biggest issue for rural telecommunications companies

is the FCC’s proposed restructuring of the Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation. For small companies, these funds can account for between 40 to 70 percent of a company’s total revenue. Without these funds, phone and Internet service in rural areas already would

be much more expensive. Companies that have invested in expanding their networks are jeopardized by the FCC’s proposed changes because they will have more difficulty paying off debt they incurred to expand services.
     “Oct. 27 will be a watershed day for rural telecommunications as the FCC meets to consider reforms that have the potential to undermine years of progress in deploying broadband across Iowa,” says Sheila Navis, executive director of the Rural Iowa Independent Telephone Association.  “In fact, it will have a significant impact on Iowa’s companies to maintain what we already have. When the FCC’s stated goal is to expand and support broadband deployment, rural America will simply be left behind. More troubling is the fact that this ill-conceived plan will have a significant impact on jobs, economic development and ultimately raise prices for Iowa consumers.”
     Leaders of several of Iowa’s rural telephone companies toured the Clear Lake area last week to raise awareness of the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed new rules to reform the Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier - Read More Via e-Edition

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