Prohibiting USF-Supported Carriers from Purchasing Certain Equipment Will Harm Consumers and Competition
Washington, DC – June 1, 2018 – Today, in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”), Competitive Carriers Association (“CCA”) opposed the FCC’s proposed rule that would prohibit Universal Service Fund (“USF”) support being used to purchase or obtain equipment or services from any providers identified as posing a national security risk to communications networks or the communications supply chain. CCA and its members fully support efforts to protect and harden their networks from cybersecurity and other national security threats. At the same time, the FCC’s actions must be adequately targeted to ensure that the proposed rule does not have detrimental impact on competition and consumers, especially those in rural areas.
“CCA strongly supports protecting the nation’s networks and has been actively involved in supporting cybersecurity and network security initiatives with a variety of Administration and agency bodies,” said CCA President & CEO Steven K. Berry, “however, CCA cannot support the FCC’s proposed rule. The FCC’s proposal will devastate the ability of all carriers, especially those that use USF to help buildout their networks, to continue to provide high quality, reliable, and cost-efficient service to millions of Americans, including those in rural and high-cost areas. This national security issue is very complex with many outstanding questions. Tying the proposed rule to critical USF funds would create significant hardships on many carriers and would risk consumers losing access to wireless services entirely and may have little effect on enhancing our nation’s telecommunications security – a outcome no one wants to see.”
“The Commission’s approach will severely and unnecessarily harm rural carriers and the many Americans who depend on them for wireless service,” said Ted Olson, a Partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and counsel to CCA. “The proposed rule raises serious constitutional questions and conflicts with the universal service principles that Congress established by statute. While the Commission’s goals are laudable, the proposed rule will not achieve its stated national-security objectives, but instead will cause great damage and dislocation to poor and rural areas that most need and depend upon effective communication service.”
Berry continued, “Congress created the USF program to help carriers provide affordable network access to rural America. Unfortunately, the FCC’s proposed rule would achieve the opposite and penalize carriers and consumers in rural and remote areas who need access to mobile broadband services the most. The rule is too broad in its approach, too narrow in its effects, and does not apply equally to all carriers; it would turn the universal service statute and its core principles upside down and should not be adopted. Instead, CCA encourages the Commission to defer to expert agencies to act on this issue and issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with an updated, more detailed proposal that will secure the nation’s networks to avoid harming the industry and, most importantly, consumers.”
CCA is the nation’s leading association for competitive wireless providers and stakeholders across the United States. The licensed service area of CCA’s nearly 100 carrier members covers 95 percent of the nation. Visit www.ccamobile.org.
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