Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would delay implementing an increase in the rate floor for high cost area funding until January 2015. At that point the The FCC will increase the rate floor incrementally instead of increasing the rate floor from $14 to $20.46 for phone service. The FCC will also conduct a new urban rate survey, and it will not apply the rate floor increase for lines with customers using the Lifeline program.
In addition to the rate floor announcement, the FCC proposed an increase in the minimum broadband speed requirements for the recipients of high cost support. “Broadband is an evolving standard and connections should become more robust to access the growing number of services that depend on ubiquitous and reliable connectivity,” said John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge. “It's good to see the FCC revisit the standards an Internet connection must meet to qualify as broadband, but there is still work to be done. Broadband connections should offer fast and reliable upload as well as download capability. The FCC must continue to update its standards as the needs of the public continue to evolve.”
The following can be attributed to Jodie Griffin, Senior Staff Attorney:
“The FCC's decision to phase-in rate floor increases more incrementally will help prevent customers from losing access to affordable basic phone service. Similarly, exempting customers in the Lifeline program will help protect some of the most financially vulnerable customers from losing access to affordable service. These actions do not solve all of the underlying issues for efforts to ensure universal service funding provides reasonably comparable service and rates for high cost areas, but they will help protect customers from dramatic price increases for basic communications service.
“As the Commission moves forward with its next rate survey, it should bear in mind the implications of this issue on broader network transition to IP. If rate surveys continue to show dramatic price increases for basic phone service in supposedly competitive areas, those results undermine the common refrain that deregulation leads to more innovation and lower prices, and that customers are simply voluntarily abandoning basic phone service.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.