In a world of high-speed broadband, iPads and smart phones, rural Alaskans would be a large community of "have nots" lacking essential access to the modern network without the continued support from the Universal Service Fund (USF). That's the message from Alaska's Congressional Delegation in a letter to Federal Communications (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The delegation's letter says as the FCC takes up the issue of reforming the USF, Alaskans strongly encourage the Commission to maintain support for Alaska to ensure current communications services are not degraded and future services are not jeopardized.
"Without continued high cost support, tens of thousands of Alaskans will be relegated to using antiquated communications services or having no services at all," the letter states. "With many communities accessible only by plane or boat, the need for reliable, modern and advanced communications services is vital for twenty-first century jobs, education, health care and public safety."
Chairman Genachowski recently visited Alaska and saw first-hand the many challenges facing the state when it comes to broadband deployment. The delegation letter commends the reform and modernization efforts for the USF, while encouraging the FCC to work to ensure the fund's continued sustainability and viability in all of Alaska's difficult to serve areas.
"We assert that Alaska's yearly telecommunication needs are already far greater than the USF support the state receives today. Consequently, while we do not expect USF support to increase beyond what may be necessitated by intercarrier compensation changes, we strongly encourage the Commission to maintain a sufficient level of support to protect current service levels and future developments."