On November 18, 2011, the FCC issued an Order redefining the ways telecommunications companies earn revenue for their services, and re-allocated current government support into a new fund. The result: over the next 5 years, nearly $9 billion will be redistributed to large carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, and others, at the expense of the small rural telecommunications companies and you, the consumer. Initial projections estimate $10-$17 monthly rate increases in rural customers' rates, beginning July 1st, when Phase I of the Order is set to begin.
Various small companies are already scrambling to deal with the consequences, some even contemplating filing for bankruptcy in anticipation of lost revenue and defaulting on loans. Many of these companies had taken Rural Utilities Services (RUS--a government program) loans to help provide customers in high-cost areas such as mountains, deserts, Tribal Lands, etc., with high-speed Internet and telephone services, but under the Order, the revenue they anticipated when making these investments will be greatly reduced. The RUS has actually filed comments with the FCC to this end, realizing that their loan-holders will not be able to repay such loans, and that they (the RUS) could ultimately lose over $1 billion as a result.
An abundance of litigation has been filed against the FCC regarding these issues, including suits by various states' Public Utilities Commissions. Consumer advocacy groups have filed as well, and hundreds of small companies have voiced their concerns and opposition to the Order, only to be summarily rejected or outright ignored.
The FCC has made it clear that they have their answers and will not consider the voice of the small companies, so it's the voice of the consumer to whom we must turn. Sign this petition to implore the United States Senate to initiate a hearing to uncover the impact of this Order on rural telecommunications companies and their customers, and let the FCC know that we won't be bullied and pillaged to fund big business expenses!
More information can be found at www.facebook.com/keepconnected and at www.smallcompanycoalition.com
-the Small Company Coalition-
"Common Folk for Common Sense"