UTC Announces 2021 Policy Agenda
Friday, September 10, 2021 | Comments

Policies supporting funding for broadband, electric infrastructure and federal spectrum sharing were among a series of resolutions approved by the electric, water and natural gas utility members of the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) during the UTC Telecom and Technology 2021 annual conference.

Specifically, UTC’s core utility members approved policy resolutions supporting utility broadband, state block grant funding for broadband infrastructure development and federal spectrum sharing. In addition, the members approved resolutions opposing FCC policies that would unfairly shift the cost of pole replacements onto utilities and force utilities to bear a disproportionate and unfair share of the cost of the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) contributions.

These approved policy resolutions will guide and inform UTC’s advocacy in Washington, D.C., and at the state level on these issues.

The resolution supporting utility broadband infrastructure policies expresses UTC’s support for state policymakers to consider new and innovative rate-regulatory policies that shorten the lag between investment and cost recovery on all utility technologies, including middle- and last-mile projects, in order to help connect all Americans to broadband services. The resolution urges Congress to consider adding funding for all utility broadband projects, including middle and last mile, as part of its economic recovery packages.

The resolution on USF reform expresses UTC’s opposition to any attempts to disproportionately or unfairly increase the USF fees paid by utilities. This resolution also states that UTC will, and encourages its members to, raise awareness of the significant impact USF Contribution Reform will have on utilities and their customers.

The resolution on federal support for state block grant funding for broadband infrastructure development urges the federal government to remove the barrier of eligible telecommunication carrier (ETC) status and other such requirements that otherwise prevent open access utilities from receiving federal funding for broadband infrastructure. The resolution also states that UTC supports a role for states in identifying funding needs and mechanisms that work best for rural communities and rural providers. Finally, the resolution asks the federal government to create state block grant programs that allow broadband infrastructure funding requirements to be tailored by states to best address the infrastructure development needs of customers in each community.

The resolution opposing the NCTA petition on utility pole attachments urges the FCC to reject the NCTA petition on pole replacement costs, as it would only serve to shift costs and delay deployment of broadband services in unserved and underserved areas, the UTC said. The resolution also urges the FCC to promote rules and policies that encourage collaboration and partnership between utilities and telecommunications companies in order to develop smarter, safer and more technically efficient services for the public.

The resolution supporting Department of Defense (DoD) spectrum sharing expresses UTC’s formal support for spectrum-sharing arrangements with the DoD in order to provide utilities and federal agencies with reliable wireless communications to support future capacity and coverage requirements cost-effectively.

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