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Released: March 22, 2012

FCC Consumer Advisory Committee Recommendation

Regarding the Remote Areas Fund

The Federal Communications Commission proposes to allocate $100 million to a Remote Areas
Fund that would “ensure that Americans living in the most remote areas in the nation, where the
cost of deploying traditional terrestrial broadband networks is extremely high, can obtain
affordable access through alternative technology platforms, including satellite and unlicensed
wireless services.”1
The Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) encourages the Commission to structure the Remote
Areas Fund to enable municipal, community and local broadband providers to participate in the
fund. Further, the CAC supports the position that there is a need for an interconnection
obligation for fund recipients. The CAC further encourages the Commission to ensure that these
municipal, community and local broadband providers ensure that their broadband services
address the needs of and are accessible to people with disabilities.
·
To ensure that consumers have access to the most robust available broadband service, the
Commission should consider the potential effectiveness of municipal, community and
local broadband providers. Smaller, community-driven networks such as community
wireless networks and WISPs may be better equipped to address area broadband needs at
the local level, offering more holistic solutions that can connect businesses, schools,
hospitals, libraries, and other anchor institutions in a community to area residents.
Community-driven development of broadband infrastructure in turn has the ability to
deeply engage community members with the broadband deployment process, which is
particularly important in communities that are presently unserved and that may need
additional digital literacy training and ongoing technical support.
·
An Interconnection Obligation on providers receiving fund support is necessary to ensure
that communities have access to backhaul capacity, particularly if the Commission uses a
portable consumer subsidy to disperse benefits to remote areas. It would provide critical
capacity to providers seeking to offer service to remote communities. An interconnection
obligation would maintain the potential for competition in areas presently served by only
one provider and can provide high-cost area residents more choices in terms of services
and plans. Such an obligation can also ensure that USF support can benefit a wide
variety of providers.


1 In the Matter of Connect America Fund, WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-337, 03-109,
GN Docket No. 09-51; CC Docket Nos. 01-92, 96-45, Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking
, (rel. Nov. 18, 2011) (“Order”).

Adopted: February 24, 2012
Abstaining: American Consumer Institute, Consumer Electronics Association, CTIA The
Wireless Association, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Time Warner Cable,
T-mobile.
Respectfully submitted:
Debra R. Berlyn, Chairperson
FCC Consumer Advisory Committee

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