Carri Bennet, RTG's General Counsel
On Friday, November 18th, the FCC released its long anticipated ICC/USF Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that was adopted October 27th. Under Phase I of the Mobility Fund adopted by the FCC, wireless ETCs will be eligible for a one-time shot of $300 million as part of the Mobility Fund. Mobile carriers serving tribal areas will be eligible for an additional $50 million in support. In addition to the one shot Mobility Fund, the FCC will develop a targeted, Phase II mobile fund that will provide up to $500 million per year in support for wireless carriers. Current "portable" support will be phased down over five years for all carriers, including carriers in "Covered Locations" currently not subject to the cap. Mobile carriers that receive high-cost support will have roaming and collocation obligations imposed on them. Rules for Phase I support will form the basis for ongoing Phase II support that will be fleshed out as part of the FNPRM. "Time will tell whether Phase I and Phase II support amounts are sufficient to promote and sustain mobile voice and broadband networks in high-cost rural areas," stated Carri Bennet, RTG's General Counsel. "RTG will work with the FCC's Wireless Bureau to ensure that such limited support is efficiently targeted to genuine high-cost areas and is used to provision mobile voice and broadband services rather than to pad corporate bottom lines," promised Bennet.
The Rural Telecommunications Group (RTG) will continue to digest the Order and FNPRM and analyze its impact on its members, and will hold a webcast on Monday, December 5th from 2:00 to 3:00 PM Eastern.