Prior to the FCC’s big vote next week to repeal the Commission’s 2015 net neutrality rules and reclassification of the internet, many advocates are filing last-minute appeals for their own points of view. NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association weighed in, but did not endorse either side of the argument. NTCA’s main concern was that the vote does nothing to damage rural providers’ ability to distribute broadband.
Michael R. Romano, NTCA’s senior VP, Industry Affairs & Business Development, said the FCC must ensure that “nothing in any order that may be adopted in this proceeding would undermine or abdicate the Commission’s separate authority and distinct mandates,” he said in an ex parte letter. Specifically, the Commission should do nothing to damage “seamless connectivity among all Americans, preserve and advance universal service in a broadband world, and encourage the deployment and availability of advanced telecommunications capability for all Americans.”
In past years, NTCA made statements in favor of reclassification, believing that telecommunications status would promote and preserve universal service. But adequate funding for the universal service high-cost fund has been the top issue for rural telcos in the two years since reclassification. If anything, rural telcos’ position has deteriorated. It seems clear now that building out broadband is a “distinct mandate” that has little to do with net neutrality or reclassification.