Thursday, May 26, 2011

Satellite Providers Argue for Inclusion in Broadband Funds

There is nothing quite as contentious as any proposed changes to current intercarrier compensation or universal service programs, even though many would argue the programs no longer work very well. 
The U.S. “Connect America Fund” represents billions of dollars worth of support for broadband suppliers in unserved and underserved rural areas. As you would expect, potential suppliers are going to fight over those funds, including the matter of eligibility. One clear fight is between some fixed line providers on one hand and wireless providers of several types, including satellite providers, mobile providers and fixed wireless providers as well. But there also is contention between fixed line providers. 
Independent rural telcos have complained that a disproportionate amount of those underserved areas are served by AT&T and Verizon Communications, preferring that funds be earmarked only for smaller and independent companies and cooperatives. Satellite providers in the United States and Europe think they should be eligible providers. 
Separately, European satellite broadband providers are lobbying the European Commission to provide public funding for the rollout of satellite broadband across Europe.
At a conference held by the Association of Telecommunications and Value-Added Service Providers, industry stakeholders said that satellite was the only form of broadband provision to offer universal coverage, patching the holes left by other solutions, such as fixed networks and mobile broadband.
In the United States, Dish Network Corp., Hughes Network Systems, ViaSat and WildBlue Communications (ViaSat) argue they should be allowed to apply for Connect America Fund projects.

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