Satellite Broadband Group Calls ABC Proposal Anticompetitive, Backward and Costly (1 Viewer)

Scott Greczkowski

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Satellite Broadband Group Calls ABC Proposal Anticompetitive, Backward and Costly

ABC Proposal is not reform at all; It is same old USF program and would cost billions in unnecessary funding while harming consumer choice and competition

Washington, D.C., Aug. 4, 2011?The Satellite Broadband Operators Coalition, the nation's leading group of consumer satellite broadband providers serving rural areas of the U.S., issued the following open letter to address concerns of the America’s Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Proposal:

On July 29, 2011, a group of large incumbent wireline carriers with the endorsement of the USTelecom Association (USTA) asked the FCC to “reform” the universal service fund (USF) by handing billions of dollars of support to those same incumbent carriers. In essence, the ABC Proposal would create a wireline quota system, designed to preserve and enhance their existing subsidy levels, with just a small percentage of funds being made available for more advanced technologies such as wireless and satellite. We believe this proposal is designed to benefit the authors of the proposal, not American consumers. Instead, the best policy would allocate support through a competitive, market-based process that would maximize consumer benefit while minimizing the funding burden placed on the American public.

We strongly support the FCC’s earlier suggestion to use competitively and technologically neutral reverse auctions to ensure that the public gets the most “bang for its buck.” The ABC Proposal asks the FCC to discard this approach in favor of one that would give unjustified preferences to already-entrenched incumbents—even where competitive satellite, wireless, cable, or other broadband providers could offer higher-quality service in a more cost-efficient manner, and even where those competitive providers already have invested billions of dollars in next-generation broadband infrastructure.

We strongly support the reform of the obsolete USF support mechanisms and believe that broadband should be a supported service. But the ABC Proposal is not reform at all?it is the same old USF program, with the same problems of overfunding, inefficiencies and outdated technology. The interests of consumers should be placed above those of incumbents, in accordance with the requirements of the Communications Act and sound public policy. We echo the Rural Cellular Association in urging the FCC and Congress to recognize the ABC Proposal for what it is—bad policy and business as usual?at the expense of consumers and competition.

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