The FCC's proposal to trade in the old Universal Service Fund (USF) for a new Connect America Fund is gaining provisional backing of the American Cable Association.

The USF levied fees on telephony and used the proceeds to secure lifeline phone service for those who lacked it, often either because of distance from the network or economic hardship.

The proposal is to retire the USF and replace it with a new program that will encompass all forms of connectivity, including wireline and wireless broadband and satellite.

The ACA said it is endorsing the idea. It accompanied its endorsement with a suggestion that the FCC establish proper transition measures for the High Cost Fund, a fund set aside to bring connectivity to citizens who haven't got service because it's too expensive under ordinary circumstances to connect them. The ACA said the transition should be engineered in such a manner that "truly small providers in rural areas can continue their mission of providing quality service to their consumers."

The ACA is suggesting allowing small service providers to be able to continue to rely on the High Cost Fund during a transition period "to prevent a destructive spike in phone rates for millions of consumers living in the most economically challenging areas to provide service," ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka said.

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