Letter to the Editor
Independent Telecommunications Companies
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Using your wireless phone or your tablet doesn't happen unless we have our landline network. Wireless activities are made possible by a wireless signal that travels from the device to a wireless tower or router. Once that signal reaches that point, it is redirected through wire-based network that transports it to its destination.
Independent Telecommunications Companies are the ones who bring you this communication, particularly in rural areas.
Independent telephone companies are committed to doing their part to ensure Iowa's telecommunication needs are met. They will continue to invest in communities to ensure their economic development needs are met, but in its efforts to expand broadband access, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved rules that are forcing rural providers to study how the future of broadband deployment looks in their communities. The rules eliminate access fees and the Universal Service Fund, a source of revenue vital to providing rural areas with investment in telecommunications services. A new program, the Connect America Fund, will reward providers that have not invested in offering broadband services to their customers, while penalizing those providers that have.
Here are a couple things you can expect as a result of these new rules: First, consumers and businesses will see access recovery charges on their bills ($ .50 for consumers and $ 1 for businesses per month) as mandated by the new rules beginning in July. Other changes and charges loom for 2013 and 2014 as well.
Declining Universal Service Fund (USF) support will likely mean that rural customers will pay more and that unserved areas will likely not gain access to reliable alternatives for robust broadband service. For example, 80 percent of 81 Independent Telecommunications Companies in Iowa recently surveyed by the Iowa Telecommunications Association said they were "delaying" or "canceling" plans to deploy fiber in their service areas as a result of these rules.
The industry is working with the FCC to ensure a more reasonable waiver process and/or a Connect America Fund for rural providers.
While these changes present obstacles to rural Iowa, independent telephone companies are up to the task of meeting the needs of Iowans. It's critical that rural Iowans have access to the infrastructure telephone companies have developed that enables e-mail, debit/credit card transactions, home/business security and monitoring markets.