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Federal Broadband Reform: How Will Rural Providers Survive?

Categorized Under: Community Development



ICF International experts Michael Spead and Keith Montgomery authored this paper on U.S. federal broadband reform, focusing on the impacts of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) on rural service providers. The NBP calls for significant reform of telecommunication regulation and policy, which includes:

  • Reallocation of wireless spectrum for broadband use
  • Reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF) transitioning from telephone subsidies to broadband subsidies under the Connect America Fund (CAF)
  • Reform of Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) rates for the use of other providers' networks

The goal of this paper is to provide a high-level discussion of the proposed reforms and some of the challenges rural carriers will be facing with these regulatory changes. This paper is tailored for incumbent and competitive providers who will need to assess the inherent risks and opportunities these changes bring, streamline operations and reduce costs, prepare for the requirements of a reverse auction, and consider diversification strategies for the new market.

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Authored By

  • Michael Spead

    Senior Technical SpecialistICF International

    Michael Spead, former senior program manager at the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), has more than 10 years of experience in broadband/telecommunications program and project management, policy analysis and regulatory compliance, business process engineering, and financial analysis. Mr. Spead leverages his understanding of the broadband/telecommunications ecosystem to develop successful programs and projects to support state, local, and commercial entities, and he monitors changes in broadband/telecommunications policy to provide technical advisory services for clients. At USAC, Mr. Spead also served as an ambassador for a nationwide outreach initiative with telecommunications firms to build relationships, train industry leaders, and address issues relating to the Universal Service Fund (USF).

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