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Up Coming Events

March 7-8 2017 - Iowa Communications Alliance Annual Meeting & Expo Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, Des Moines, Iowa

March 8-9 2017 - Washington Independent Telecommunications Association (WITA) ITA Showcase Northwest Holiday Inn Portland Airport Hotel, Portland, Oregon

March 15 2017 - WSTA - Wisconsin's Broadband Association Government Relations Seminar Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor's Club, Madison, Wisconsin

March 16 2017 - Pennsylvania Telephone Association (PTA) Small Company Meeting The Penn Stater, State College, Pennsylvania

March 26-29 2017 - South Carolina Telecommunications and Broadband Association (SCTBA) 2017 Annual Convention Belmond Charleston Place Hotel, Columbia, South Carolina

March 27-29 2017 - Minnesota Telecom Alliance 2017 Annual Convention & Trade Show Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis, Minnesota

April 4-6 2017 - Telephone Association of New England (TANE) Spring Symposium Marriott Sable Oaks, South Portland, Maine

April 18-20 2017 - California Communications Association (CalCom) 33rd Annual Showcase & Tech Showcase Expo Doubletree Resort, Sacramento, California

April 24-25 2017 - Iowa Communications Alliance (ICA) Cyber Security Summit Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport, Des Moines, Iowa

April 25-26 2017 - Indiana Broadband Technology Association (IBTA) Spring Meeting Cambria Suites, Noblesville, Indiana

April 26-27 2017 - Pennsylvania Telephone Association (PTA) Spring Conference Penn State Conference Center, State College, Pennsylvania

May 9-11 2017 - North Dakota Telephone Association (NDTA) Tri-State Telecom Operations Conference Holiday Inn, Fargo, North Dakota

May 15-18 2017 - Arizona New Mexico Telecommunications Association (ANMTA) Spring Conference Inn of the Mountain Gods, Ruidoso, New Mexico

May 22-25 2017 - WSTA Wisconsin's Broadband Association - 107th Annual Convention Grand Geneva, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

May 22-24 2017 - Alaska Telephone Association (ATA) Annual Meeting Harrigan Centennial Hall, Sitka, Alaska

May 23 2017 - Nebraska Telecommunications Association (NTA) Spring Conference Cornhusker Marriott Hotel, Lincoln, Nebraska

May 24 - 26 2017 - Kentucky Telecom Association (KTA) Annual Meeting Marriott Griffin Gate Resort & Spa, Lexington, Kentucky


NEWS
HEADLINES

March 2017, Volume 173           Serving the Industry for over 59 Years           Editor: Mike Eifert

Association News

Industry News

FCC News

Federal Legislation


ASSOCIATION NEWS

This month's NTA Associate of the Month is Innovative Systems!

Learn more about Innnovative Systems and what they do by clicking the NTA Associate of the Month photo, top right of any NTA website page.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

USAC Files Federal USF Support Mechanism Fund Size Projection for 2Q 2017

     USAC filed Federal Universal Service Support Mechanisms Fund Size Projections for the Second Quarter 2017 on February 1, 2017. The high-cost support mechanism funding requirements are projected as follows: $155.34 million for HCL support; $233.97 million for CAF BLS; $36.75 million for frozen price cap carrier support; $402.14 for CAF Phase II; $0.83 for Rural Broadband Experiments; $124.59 million for frozen CETC support; $107.96 million for CAF ICC support; $32.08 for Alaska Plan support; and $31.34 million for the high-cost account, resulting in total high-cost support mechanism projected demand of $1,125.00 million. (Appendices available on USAC's website). [Source: Washington Watch, 02/03/2017]

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Groups Suggest Designation of Senior White House Member to Focus on Rural Issues

     Organizations representing rural America sent a letter to President Trump on February 8, 2017, suggesting the designation of a senior member of the White House staff and/or an Office of Rural Policy within the Executive Office of the President to focus specifically on rural issues. They said multiple federal agencies have an impact on rural areas, and coordination among those agencies is essential to ensuring the resources of the federal government are efficiently and effectively used.[Source: Washington Watch, 02/10/2017]

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AT&T flies first drones in network-support test

     AT&T has taken another step toward introducing cell site drones known as "flying COWs" -- cellsites-on-wheels -- as a fail-safe mechanism to meet disaster-recovery needs or increased capacity for major events, the telecom said in displaying the video of the drones' inaugural flight. The drone-mounted radios and antennas can reach a height of 400 feet, the maximum allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Read More...[Source: USTelecom dailyLead, 02/20/2017]

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FCC NEWS

FCC Announces 2017 Local Service Rate Floor, Reasonable Comparability Benchmarks for Fixed Voice and Broadband Services

     The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice on February 14, 2017, announcing the 2017 local voice service rate floor for incumbent ETCs is $22.49. All ILEC recipients of high-cost support must report in their annual Form 481 the number of residential service lines for which the sum of the local rate and state fees (as of June 1, 2017) is below $22.49 by July 1, 2017. The Bureau indicated that, as the full impact of the local rate floor was waived for a four-year period, to the extent an ILEC's local rates plus state regulated fees in 2017 are less than $20, that carrier's high-cost support will be reduced on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The Bureau also announced the reasonable comparability benchmark for voice services is $49.51, and the reasonable comparability benchmarks for broadband services range from $76.47 for 10/1 Mbps (100 GB usage allowance) through $90.76 for 25/5 Mbps (unlimited usage). The minimum monthly usage allowance for 2017 has been increased to 160 GBs for both price cap carriers receiving Phase II model-based support and rate-of-return carriers. The Bureau also announced the posting of the fixed voice and broadband services data collected in the most recent urban rate survey and the explanatory notes. [Source: Washington Watch, 02/14/2017]

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FCC's O'Rielly touts USF

     The federal government should abstain from funding more broadband infrastructure projects, Federal Communications Commission member Michael O'Rielly argued in a blog post, noting the country's relatively sparse population density and a 90% broadband penetration rate. O'Rielly said the Universal Service Fund was a more appropriate vehicle for expanding broadband access. Read more...[Source: USTelecom dailyLead, 02/03/2017]

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FCC orders set path for increased broadband investment

     This week, the Federal Communications Commission approved orders that would facilitate buildout of rural broadband, modernize broadband provider accounting rules, and temporarily waive enhanced transparency reporting requirements for small broadband providers with 250,000 or fewer subscribers. "Today's adoption of the auction order is an important step toward expanding broadband infrastructure in rural America and connecting more people to the internet. We look forward to working with the commission on remaining auction requirements to reach a speedy and successful result," said USTelecom President & CEO Jonathan Spalter. Learn more. [Source: USTelecom dailyLead, 02/24/2017]

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FEDERAL LEGISLATION

Senators Urge Trump to Prioritize Broadband Deployment

     Forty-eight senators sent a letter to President Trump on January 31, 2017, urging him to prioritize policies that will promote deployment of high-speed, reliable broadband for all Americans as part of any infrastructure initiative. They said for every $5 billion invested in broadband infrastructure, 250,000 jobs are created, and with every percentage point increase in new broadband distribution, employment expands by 300,000. [Source: Washington Watch, 02/03/2017]

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Congress Introduces "New Deal Rural Broadband Act"

     On February 1, Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Rick Nolan(D-MN) introduced the New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017, an "ambitious plan to connect every American home, business, and school to high-speed, reliable broadband internet that is based on Roosevelt's New Deal rural electrification model," according to a press release. The New Deal Rural Broadband Act would reportedly:

* Establish a new Office of Rural Broadband Initiatives to coordinate and centralize all Federal rural broadband programs;
* Authorize $20 billion for new broadband infrastructure focused on rural communities and those without adequate access;
* Authorize a new Tribal Broadband Assistance Program to support tribal communities in broadband deployment;
* Improve and modernize the Telecommunications Loan and Loan Guarantee Program to increase eligibility, allow greater flexibility, and break down federal agency broadband "silos";
* Authorize the Rural Utility Service (RUS) to offer broadband grants in addition to loans and loan guarantees to provide small communities with the seed funds needed to compete in loan applications or develop commercially attractive proposals and increase overall (RUS) broadband investment from $25 million to $50 million annually; and
* Establish an inventory of Federal and State assets on which a broadband facility could be constructed and;
* Provide land management agencies with cooperative agreement and fee retention authority for telecommunications rights-of-way to leverage public lands for broadband deployment.
[Source: BloostonLaw, 02/08/2017]

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