TE-07-1-Federal Telecommunication Funding Mechanisms for Connect America Fund

WHEREAS consumers living in remote, rural, insular, and high-cost areas should have access to universal telecommunications service at affordable rates, and in Colorado, more than 8  percent of its residents currently do not have access to broadband services; and

WHEREAS it has been widely acknowledged that the majority of Americans increasingly seek access to affordable broadband services, and while significant progress has been made in deploying broadband services in most markets, the provision of ubiquitous broadband availability in all markets will create significant technology, operational and cost challenges for all providers; and

WHEREAS broadband service is a critical element for rural economic development, access to health care and educational opportunities, and

WHEREAS there is a federal telecommunications funding mechanism designed to keep rates and services comparable and affordable in high-cost rural areas, known as the Universal Service Fund (USF) /Connect America Fund (CAF) or any other related funding mechanisms; and

WHEREAS the federal USF/CAF, whose programs provide funding for schools, libraries, rural health care, low income and high cost areas through the nation and is funded by a variable surcharge on the bill of most telecommunications subscribers, provides no direct high cost support for the deployment of broadband into the more rural and high cost areas of the country including those in Western Colorado; and

WHEREAS for the large telephone companies, federal USF is transitioning to the Connect America Fund, phase II, which will provide support to build and maintain broadband networks in targeted census blocks; and

WHEREAS while the Federal Communication Commission changed the priority of CAF for the smaller rural local exchange telecommunications providers to build broadband networks, current FCC rules reduce funding through unrealistic caps and benchmarks that do not account for specific geographic conditions in rural western states.

WHEREAS certain fixed wireless broadband providers claim to provide service in large areas of the western slope of Colorado, which has directly reduced potential Connect America Fund support that could be used to provide reliable wireline broadband service to western Colorado consumers; and

WHEREAS the Connect America Fund does not provide any funding to support landline broadband or voice networks in the highest cost areas of the Western Slope and the FCC’s new Remote Area Fund will only provide support toward satellite broadband service; and

WHEREAS changes in Federal universal service support will improperly place responsibility on most State governments to expand support in the highest cost areas with inadequate  assistance from the Federal Government; and

WHEREAS Federal universal service support should be calculated and targeted to small geographic regions within a State to provide greater assistance to the rural consumers most in need of support;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that CLUB 20 believes the Connect America Fund should be implemented immediately to stabilize and achieve a sustainable funding mechanism to assist in the provisioning of needed broadband and voice communications services in those rural communities in Western Colorado that are unserved and underserved.   CLUB 20 supports the continuation of a Federal mechanism that promotes rate comparability for telecommunications and broadband services between rural and urban areas; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 recommends that the Federal Communications Commission:

  • re-examine the Remote Area Fund and the reasons why these rural consumers will be left behind the rest of the nation receiving reliable broadband and voice services; and
  • CLUB 20 supports FCC Chairman Tim Wheeler’s commitment to end restrictive funding caps and funding benchmarks for the small rate of return telecommunications companies; and
  • establish a Connect American Fund challenge process that requires challengers to prove they currently provide qualifying service in challenged areas.

Adopted 9/7/2007

Amended 9/5/2008

Amended 3/28/2014

(Formerly: 07-9-TE 1)