American Cable Association 'Reserves Judgment' On USF Reform Plan

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The American Cable Association said Friday it was "pleased" with parts of the new telecom-backed Universal Service Fund reform plan.

The group, which represents smaller and mid-sized MSOs, was pleased with the plan's components, including those that "appeared" to curb runaway fund growth; limiting, "if not prohibiting" funding in areas where there is already competitive broadband service; and ensuring that the fund is "fiscally responsible."

But the association, many of whose members operate in the rural areas the plan targets, was not ready to get on the broadband wagon.

"[A]s we all know, the specific terms and conditions of both proposals are critical. Until ACA has reviewed them in detail and discussed them with the ACA board, ACA is reserving final judgment," said ACA president Matt Polka, who added that his group would file official FCC comments on the proposal after it had read the fine print.

He pointed out that more than half of ACA members provide video, phone and broadband service without government assistance.

Six major phone companies, including Verizon and AT&T, submitted their plan to the FCC Friday, according to representatives of the companies. It would migrate USF support from phone to broadband deployment in high-cost areas and reform intercarrier compensation (what telecom companies pay each other to ferry telecom traffic across their nets) given the move of voice traffic to IP delivery.

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