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Opinions and ideas about broadband policy, universal service, economic development, politics, culture, and more offered by our members and others within and outside of the telecom community 

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"Where's My 2023  Retainer/Subscriber Invoice?". . .

or, ”Is Tom Brady really retiring this time?"

By Steve Kraskin


Several subscribers to the Independent Telecom Report have sent me messages asking whether we’ve sent out the annual subscription invoice for 2023.

The answer is that we have not sent out invoices - and, we aren’t going to. 

During 2023, we plan to publish six special editions of the Independent Telecom Report that will be available without charge to our long-time subscribers and readers.   The six editions of the Report will focus  primarily on developments with the  BEAD  (Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment) funding for broadband - both the challenges and opportunities - and the growing challenges to the universal service fund.  The first special edition is planned for publication this coming Monday, February 27.

In addition to offering our final 6 editions at no charge to our long-time subscribers and retainer clients,  we’ll also continue to make the Independent Forum web site available as a forum open to all, where our subscribers and others involved in the rural telecom industry can share thoughts, ideas, questions and information.

In that regard, next week we’ll also post a provocative “Back Page” op-ed written by long-time industry friend and colleague, Larry Dale, the founder of the ITCS consulting firm that has worked with many rural telecom providers, including several of our subscribers, for many years.  To whet your appetite for the coming article, the title of Larry’s Back Page is “HELP!!!  THE RURAL TELCO INDUSTRY HAS BEEN RIPPED  OFF BY FCC RULES TO THE TUNE OF OVER $17 BILLION - I HAVE FOUND THE FIX BUT, ACHIEVING IT DEPENDS ON YOU.”

About as close to any similarity to Tom Brady that I’ll ever get, I prematurely announced retirement and the end of the publication of the Independent Telecom Report two years ago.  And, like Tom Brady, I soon did a reversal when Tom Smith, the chief editor of the Report, and I talked about the then open-ended questions regarding how the infrastructure bill and broadband funding would develop.  We decided to continue publication to chronicle the outcome. As a result, the span of the Independent Telecom Report began with the changes in how universal service was funded as a result of the implementation of the 1996 Telecom Act; and, it will end with the changes in universal service funding resulting from the passage of the Infrastructure Act and implementation of the BEAD program.


The story, of course, will not end there.  


The implementation of BEAD and inevitable challenges to the high-cost USF support program for rural telecom companies will raise new questions and issues.  When the National Broadband Plan was issued nearly 13 years ago, I then wrote questioning whether we’d still be asking the same questions about Broadband deployment 10 years later - not because of any deficiency in the National Broadband Plan, but because of anticipated implementation problems. It is not unlikely that the structure of BEAD may find us again asking the same questions 10 years from now!  


More importantly for rural telephone companies, I think that the rural telephone leadership and industry (with some notable individual company exceptions) may have been caught flat-footed in the development of the BEAD implementation and its resulting potential challenges to many rural telecom providers.  For those interested, I’ll add to those thoughts by posting some questions, concerns and ideas on the Independent Forum web site during the coming year.


For now, though . . . if only I could expand that limited comparison to Tom Brady just a small bit to include a post-retirement job like his on Fox Sports paying millions a year to offer commentary on the subject he loves the most - and, I’d settle for far less than Brady’s $37 million a year! 

February 22, 2023

March 2023 Open Meeting Agenda

Jessica Rosenworcel | Chairwoman

We are a little under three weeks away from revealing the winners of this year’s Academy Awards, but you don’t have to wait to find out what the Commission has lined up for our Open Meeting just days after the Oscars. Here’s what to expect at our March meeting.

  • We’re harnessing the power of satellites to enhance mobile phone operations. Wireless carriers have increasingly begun collaborating with satellite operators to make sure smartphone users stay connected even in areas where there is no terrestrial mobile service. This connectivity can help facilitate life-saving rescues in remote locations and the innovative opportunities it presents will only grow. To support the expansion and evolution of new interoperable services, the Commission will, for the first time, propose a framework for increased collaboration between terrestrial mobile network operators and satellite service providers.

  • We’re bringing common sense and fairness to We’re bringing common sense and . . .        (Click here to read more)

Beyond the Billions:
Policies that Can Deliver on Congress's Broadband Goals

On June 22, 2022, the Hudson Institute presented Hudson Senior Fellow (and former FCC Commissioner) Harold Furchtgott-Roth and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr in a discussion about the new federal programs for broadband:


"Circumstances have dramatically changed in the past two years. The United States is losing technological leadership in wireless 5G, and millions of Americans have little access to broadband services. Congress has appropriated many tens of billions of dollars for broadband deployment, but it remains to be seen whether and by how much the federal experiment of large-scale government funding will improve communications services for ordinary Americans."

Watch on

Meet Consumer Research, 
A Group Behind The Attack On USF

From The Washington Post, January 30, 2023

This group is sharpening the GOP attack on ‘woke’ Wall Street

By Steven Mufson

Bankrolled by mysterious donors, a little-known group named Consumers’ Research has emerged as a key player in the conservative crusade to prevent Wall Street from factoring climate change into its investment decisions. . . . .

In 2021, the group paid $1.6 million to the law firm Jones Day to file suit against the Consumer Products Safety Commission, arguing that its members should not be shielded from being fired by Congress or the president. The case is on appeal.

That same year, Consumers’ Research took aim at the Federal Communications Commission, arguing that the FCC’s Universal Service Fund — which takes money from one area of the country and provides it to underserved areas — is “an unconstitutional tax raised and spent by an unaccountable federal agency.” It paid $400,000 to the law firm of GOP veteran Boyden Gray to handle the case.

Click here to view the complete article

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