Rural telecommunications companies have long said big Internet users should have to contribute to the fund. "Netflix takes up about 10 percent of every telco's bandwidth," Shirley Bloomfield, chief executive of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, told Jerome. Taxing high-bandwidth websites may seem foreign to the current structure of the Internet, but it is a move that has precedent, Cooper says. "The exact same logic that was in used in the old days for whacking a toll could actually be used to impose legitimate costs on high-bandwidth users and say 'that's discretionary consumption,'" he told Jerome. "But we have difficulty bringing ourselves to do that." (Read more)
The Universal Service Fund wasn't the only area of rural broadband making news this week. Mandating wireless data roaming could be key to increasing mobile broadband, says the Rural Cellular Association. "Voice roaming is already mandatory, but data roaming (which includes wireless broadband) is not," Jerome reports. The FCC is considering a data roaming requirement. Rural telecommunications companies say without a data roaming mandate they have a difficult time entering into roaming agreements with bigger providers.
"The entire wireless industry with the exception of Verizon Wireless and AT&T agrees with the National Broadband Plan that an automatic data roaming obligation is in the public interest," said Steven Berry, president of RCA. Mandating data roaming could help save or create almost 117,000 jobs by increasing broadband availability in rural areas, says a report released by RCA Thursday. (Read more)