According to a statement issued by US broadband provider Windstream Communications, the telco is one of six companies that have joined forces to submit a new proposal – dubbed ‘America’s Broadband Connectivity Plan’ – to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in an effort to hasten the deployment of high speed broadband to more than four million Americans living in rural areas. The two-pronged proposal involves: firstly, the modernisation of the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF), so that it is focused on building and sustaining broadband networks without increasing the size of the USD4.5 billion fund; and secondly, fundamentally reforming the Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) system that governs how communications companies bill one another for handling traffic, gradually phasing down these charges.
The six companies – AT&T, CenturyLink, FairPoint, Frontier, Verizon and Windstream – claim to serve ‘the vast majority of US telecommunications customers, including those residing in high-cost rural areas, which are the primary focus of USF support’. Joining the telecoms operators in support of reform are the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, the Organisation for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies and Western Telecommunications Alliance – all of which represent small telecoms carriers.
Mike Rhoda, senior vice president of Windstream’s government affairs department, commented: ‘This proposal modernises the USF and ICC mechanisms as our industry migrates toward a broadband-oriented future. Importantly, the proposal provides an adequate transition period for carriers to move from the current structure to one that will meet the changing needs of telecommunications consumers and help close the rural-rural divide that has persisted under the existing flawed framework’.