Rural Broadband Alliance Press Release

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					                            ----Press Release ----

Washington, D.C.                                               September 22, 2010


  Rural Broadband Providers Form Alliance To Ensure
       Access For Rural Consumers To Advanced
            Telecommunications Networks

       More than 40 of the nations rural telecommunications carriers operating in
the rural areas of 25 states have formed the Rural Broadband Alliance “to
advance sensible, evidence-based policies for the deployment and adoption of
broadband services for all of the nation’s citizens including consumers and
businesses residing in rural, insular and high cost-to-serve areas of the nation,”
according to Alliance organizer Robert Burgess, the President and COO of
EATEL, a rural telecommunications provider located in Gonzalez, Louisiana.

       Burgess explained the inception of the Alliance: “Our Alliance is a
response to the National Broadband Plan issued earlier this year by the Federal
Communications Commission (“FCC”). While the Plan sets noble long-term
goals for the provision of universal broadband service throughout our nation, it is
short on workable specifics, especially when it comes to the provision of service
in the higher cost to serve rural areas of our nation.

        “In fact, the FCC’s initial proposals to implement the Broadband Plan in
rural areas amounts to a step backward that has cast a shadow on the ability of
rural carriers and financial institutions to invest in rural telecommunications. The
adverse impact is real in terms of a chill on investment, planning and job growth
in the communities served by rural carriers.”

        In exchange for their commitment to the provision of universal service
within their rural areas, rural carriers receive part of the recovery of their costs
from the Federal Universal Service Fund in order to offset higher consumer rates
that would otherwise be needed to sustain advanced networks in the more
sparse, higher cost rural areas. The Broadband Plan incorporates wholesale
changes to the Universal Service Fund.

       Keith Oliver, Senior Vice President of Home Telephone Company of
Moncks Corner South Carolina and a member of the Alliance’s steering
committee explained that the FCC’s Broadband Plan proposals “ignore both the
underlying policy that is at the foundation of the Universal Service Fund
mechanisms and the success that the Universal Service Fund has produced in
rural areas served by the nation’s independent rural carriers.”
        Oliver has extensively participated in industry forums and efforts to
establish a rational regulatory platform for rural carriers as their networks
transition to broadband technology. Oliver stated, “It’s currently fashionable to
say that the Universal Service Fund is ‘broken.’ The fact is, however, that the
Fund has different mechanisms for different classes of carriers. And, the facts
show that the mechanisms for the nation’s rural independent carriers work.

       “Our Alliance will demonstrate to FCC officials and policy-makers that they
can achieve the goals of the Broadband Plan by building on the programs and
policies that work.”

       Greg Berberich, the CEO of the Matanuska Telephone Association and
also a member of the Alliance Steering Committee, indicated that “a significant
aspect of the Alliance’s focus will be on telling our story. The rural independent
telecommunications carriers of our nation have a great story to tell about what we
have done to bring advanced telecommunications networks to the rural areas we
serve by working with federal programs like the Universal Service Fund and the
finance programs of the Rural Utilities Service.

       “The National Broadband Plan reflects little knowledge or awareness of
the broadband experience of rural carriers and the communities we serve.
Unfortunately, the Plan proposes to dismantle the very foundations of universal
service. Our Alliance, working together with our rural industry’s national
associations, will provide the rich data and solid information that supports the
programs and actions that truly advance the nation’s broadband objectives in
contrast to the “Plan’s” universal service proposals.”

      The efforts of the Alliance will focus on three areas: advocacy, grassroots
support, and education. Burgess stated, “We’re going to support and reinforce
the advocacy efforts of our national associations with recognized
telecommunications experts who fully understand the universal service policy
needs of rural America.

       “We’re going to demonstrate the grassroots support of our communities
and our political representatives for the telecommunications policy programs that
enable rural carriers to deploy and maintain advanced networks in the high cost
to serve rural areas of our nation. And, we are going to produce a series of white
papers based on fact, policy and law that support federal regulatory programs
that work effectively to foster universal service and achieve the very goals of the
FCC’s Broadband Plan.”

       For more information, contact Steve Kraskin, Communications Advisory Counsel,
       202-333-1770, skraskin@independent-tel.com

				
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