FTTH Council Raises Caution on Proposed USF Broadband Fees
In comments filed today with the Federal Communications Commission, the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Americas said that while it generally supports reform of the Universal Service Fund, the FCC should refrain from imposing a fee on broadband Internet access service, especially one that would increase with greater performance capabilities related to bandwidth and speed.
In its filing, the Council noted that during the comment process a broad range of voices from the broadband industry have said that “the imposition of any fee on broadband Internet access service would deter demand, thereby harming the business case and chilling investment in high-speed networks.” The fee would discourage network operators from making plant and service upgrades and expanding their networks to serve more subscribers, the Council said.
If the Commission were to proceed with a USF fee on broadband services, the Council urged that it be a flat assessment per broadband connection, because assessing higher fees for higher bandwidth services would run counter to the FCC’s stated goal of making faster and more robust broadband networks available to a larger segment of the U.S. population.
The Council also refuted claims that demand for broadband is not greatly affected by price, saying that such assertions are based on outdated and inconclusive economic studies.