[tmc] The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a full committee hearing today titled Universal Service: Transforming the High-Cost Fund for the Broadband Era.
Witness List: Panel I The Honorable Michael J. Copps, Federal Communications Commission The Honorable Mignon Clyburn, Federal Communications Commission The Honorable Meredith Atwell Baker, Federal Communications Commission Panel II Mr. Jeff Gardner, Chief Executive Officer, Windstream Communications Mr. Delbert Wilson, General Manager, Hill Country Telephone Cooperative Mr. John Gockley, Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, US Cellular Corporation Mr. Paul Waits, President, Ritter Communications Mr. Kyle McSlarrow, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Cable and Telecommunications Association
Key Quotations from Today's Hearing:
"Universal service is a cherished principle. In years past, it has meant that this nation connects every community with basic phone service. But in years ahead, it must mean that we connect our communities with broadband. This subject is not simple, and updating the universal service system is not easy. But it is enormously important, and it is the right thing to do." Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV
"It is my belief that high-value broadband is the Great Enabler of our time. This technology infrastructure intersects with just about every great challenge confronting our nation today-- jobs, business growth, education, energy, climate change and the environment, international competitiveness, health care, overcoming disabilities, opening doors of equal opportunity, news and information, our democratic dialogue. There is no solution for any of these challenges that does not have some broadband component to it." The Honorable Michael J. Copps, Federal Communications Commission
"Without modern communications systems, the economic viability of rural areas is in doubt. To fully participate in our 21st Century economy, all consumers--no matter where they live in our great nation--must have access to broadband technology. Yet, 14-24 million Americans do not even have access to broadband at home." The Honorable Mignon Clyburn, Federal Communications Commission
"There is absolutely more to be done to reach the remaining seven million unserved households that the [Broadband] Plan has identified. We must strive to get more broadband--with faster speeds--deployed to more Americans in more places." The Honorable Meredith Atwell Baker, Federal Communications Commission
"Rather than preserve a flawed program, universal service must be reformed to direct funds more equitably and rationally across all of rural America. As senior members of this committee know well, changing universal service is difficult. Yet, today we have reached the point where significant change is the only way to fulfill the mission called for in the National Broadband Plan." Mr. Jeff Gardner, Chief Executive Officer, Windstream Communications
"We believe that broadband offers the promise of a better tomorrow for all Americans, but especially for those living in rural America. Broadband is the great equalizer between rural, suburban, and urban regions, because distance and location disappear. Truly, broadband capability yields the ability for rural communities and their citizens to effectively compete in the global economy." Mr. Delbert Wilson, General Manager, Hill Country Telephone Cooperative
"We are supportive of the goals of the National Broadband Plan and we think that with some common sense adjustments that it can provide the way forward for deployment of fixed and mobile broadband throughout rural America." Mr. John Gockley, Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, US Cellular Corporation
"[Rural broadband expansion] will require recognition of the need for focus and commitment at the local level, as well as the need to protect small business from being quashed amid the battles and maneuvers of the telecommunications titans. Rural broadband is a role best suited to rural specialists."
Mr. Paul Waits, President, Ritter Communications
"The universal service program has long been a critical element of our nation's communications policy, ensuring that all Americans have access to rapid and efficient communications services at reasonable rates - and it will undoubtedly remain a cornerstone of communications policy in the broadband era." Mr. Kyle McSlarrow, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Cable and Telecommunications Association
HEARING SUMMARY - UNIVERSAL SERVICE: TRANSFORMING THE HIGH-COST FUND FOR THE BROADBAND ERA