Our Project Team recently participated in a webinar hosted by ICF International focused on Universal Service Fund (USF) and Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) reform. The presenter, Michael Spead, a Senior Technical Specialist at ICF, focused on some of major changes created by the new Connect America Fund (CAF).
In particular, the new program makes significant changes to the high-cost portion of USF. Under the program, providers who elect not to provide service to portions of their service area will be required to place those unserved areas up for public auction. Only providers classified as Eligible Telecom Carriers (ETCs) will be allowed to participate in auctions. Tribal Entities will have a special exemption which will allow them to bid while their application to become an ETC is pending.
CAF will also eliminate funding to areas where unsubsidized competitors exists, which may have a significant impact on some providers currently receiving subsidies. Both the auctions and the funding elements of the program will be heavily reliant on providers’ ability to provide accurate mapping data.
According to Spead, it is still unclear how the changes will impact providers and state USF programs may need to be modified to adapt to these changes.
Click here to visit the ICF website and listen to the webinar.