Senate to Hear From Telecoms on Rural Communications - Broadcasting & Cable

Senate to Hear From Telecoms on Rural Communications

Look for panel to raise issues including USF subsidies and stimulus build-outs
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The Senate Communications Subcommittee has
announced the witness list for an April 9 hearing on rural communications and
the "challenges facing companies serving rural consumers" and the
list include smaller cable operators and telecom providers intimately familiar
with the issue.

Among
those challenges, according to cable operators are not being overbuilt by
government broadband stimulus money, and continuing to get subsidies as the FCC
migrates the Universal Service Fund from phone to broadband.

Scheduled
to testify are Steven Davis from CenturyLink, John Strode of Ritter
Communications, Patricia Jo Boyers of BOYCOM Cablevision Inc., and Leroy
Carlson Jr. of Telephone & Data Systems.

Just
last week, the American Cable Association, whose membership includes smaller
cable ops, asked the FCC not to define access to high-speed broadband at speeds
so high that it will allow their members to be overbuilt with money from the
second round of Connect America funds, the new USF broadband subsidies,
reiterating to the FCC in a filing that "areas where cable provides
broadband must not be deemed unserved and targets of government
subsidies."

The
FCC has asked whether 6 Mbps upstream/1.5 Mbps downstream should be the de
facto definition of available high-speed broadband. ACA says no because that
would "put at risk" cable ops offering 4/1 mbps service but less than
6/1.5.

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