NCTA Staff to Attend Burns Phone Summit

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The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is sending two
representatives to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to attend a
universal-phone-service summit arranged by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.).

The event comes as the Federal Communications Commission continues to debate
whether a portion of cable-modem revenue should support universal service, a
program that keeps local phone service affordable in high-cost rural states like
Montana.

The NCTA is expected to send Rick Cimmerman from association affairs and
Cinnamon Rogers from government relations, according to the trade group and a
Burns press aide. Also expected to attend is Bob Rowe of the Montana Public
Service Commission.

At a May 6 Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a
vocal supporter of the universal-service program, indicated that cable operators
and direct-broadcast satellite carriers should contribute.

"I do not think the universal-service concept can exist, can continue unless
both the direct broadcaster and your concept of Internet through cable make the
contributions required for other providers," Stevens said.

Cox Communications Inc. president and CEO James O. Robbins, who testified
before the Senate panel, said Cox makes universal-service contributions on its
regular, circuit-switched phone service.

But, he added, the issue of universal-service contributions from phone
services routed over the Internet -- a growing capability of cable-modem service
-- had yet to be decided by the FCC.

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