A new campaign from the Rural Broadband Association (NTCA) is intended to shine light on the important role of the Universal Service Fund in both getting and keeping rural consumers connected.
“Broadband Built to Last” is the name of a new ad campaign from the NTCA that is intended to educate the public and policy makers about the Universal Service Fund, which the association hopes to inspire continued support for.
The ad campaign will run through November in publications like Axios, Communications Daily, and Politico, according to the NTCA.
NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield said there is lots of excitement around recent broadband deployments but stressed that the job for rural providers will carry on long after the shovels leave the ground. Her comments were included in an announcement about the ad campaign.
“It continues each and every day as they work to maintain networks and sustain service for their customers,” she said. “The Universal Service Fund plays a unique role in helping ensure rural Americans can continue to have reliable access to communications services at rates comparable to urban areas.”
The Universal Service Fund is paid for by contributions from service providers based on an assessment of interstate and international telecommunications service and telecommunications revenues, according to the NTCA’s website.
“The federal Universal Service Fund helps rural consumers connect to services comparable in price and quality to those in urban areas, making services more affordable for low-income families, and supports critical connections for schools, libraries, and healthcare facilities in rural communities,” the NTCA’s website stated in a summary about the fund’s importance.
According to the NTCA, which represents more than 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies, the loss of support for the Universal Service Fund “would be catastrophic for rural consumers.”
“On average, rural consumers could have to pay an additional $100 or more per month for 100 Mbps broadband. And nearly 110,000 rural customers served by these companies alone would lose out on better broadband over the next year.”
If support for the fund evaporated, the NTCA said 60 companies surveyed would have to cancel over $290 million in planned broadband construction in 2024. According to the NTCA’s webpage about the fund, that would account for roughly 83 percent of the planned investment from those companies.
“We hope this campaign—combined with the strong grassroots advocacy of rural providers—will help educate policymakers and the public on why continued support for the Universal Service Fund is critical to sustain broadband networks built to last,” said Bloomfield.