This summer has been rather active and successful for the Small Company Coalition. The SCC recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers as well as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In addition to our usual effort to keep our elected officials apprised of how federal regulations impact our small companies and communities, we were also able to make significant headway toward pushing for specific reforms.
I am pleased to report that the FCC has already adopted one of the regulatory revisions that the Coalition has proposed, thus reducing the paperwork burden on our companies. While this is only a fraction of the larger reforms that we would like to see, it represents a very positive step in the right direction. Further bolstering this notion is the recent news that the FCC has begun seeking comment on additional streamlining efforts, notably requesting comment on the most time-consuming compliance form (Form 477); the Commission desires input on possibly reducing this form from a semi-annual filing to an annual filing, something which the SCC has advocated for a few years.
While the above items benefit our customer-base indirectly, there have been other discussions which may lead to more direct relief for rural consumers and communities. In the SCC’s discussions with the office of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, as well as our meeting with Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, both parties expressed a serious interest in augmenting the funding mechanisms utilized by rural providers. Simply stated, the Commission appears to be turning a corner on giving small telecommunications companies the resources they need to provide their communities with state-of-the-art broadband services. While such a need may seem commonsensical outside of the D.C. Beltway, there has been much resistance to “increasing” universal service funding to high-cost rural territories for many years now. The truth of the matter is that the funding is already available and collected—it simply needs to be more efficiently and effectively distributed. This is a position that the SCC will continue to uphold until the “digital divide” between rural and urban areas is finally bridged.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer, and I look forward to bringing more good news in the months to come.