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LR 343 Interim study to study look at Nebraska USF and Federal USF

This afternoon in Lincoln, the Transportation & Telecommunications Committee concluded their hearings on LR 343.  Click HERE for a link to the study. .  Today, the committee invited 5 experts on the Nebraska Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Federal USF and the programs they support. 

The first three testifiers were national experts on the Federal USF and testified as a panel.  The panel was: Michael Baloff, Cheryl Parrino, and Harold Furchtgott-Roth all of whom have incredible experience with the FCC and the Federal USF and now are private consultants in this area.  In sum, their testimony supported the philosophy that without sufficient policy-based investment support from programs like the Nebraska USF, there will be no further economic development in rural Nebraska.  Customers in rural high-cost areas rely on broadband networks for economic opportunity, education, health care, public safety, emergency management, and social benefits.  Telecommunications companies without investment support will have no choice but to focus on population clusters because the cost is too great to offer services in rural Nebraska.  They also discouraged Nebraska from looking to the Federal USF for support and instead focus on the current and future health of the Nebraska USF.  All three were very complimentary about what Nebraska has in place.

The other two invited testifiers were Dr. Mandi Constantine, Executive Director of Telehealth/Nebraska Medical Center who testified on the value of Nebraska’s telehealth network, and Commissioner Boyle of the PSC who testified on all the programs offered by the Nebraska USF.  Here is the letter submitted by the Nebraska Cable Communications Association in support of the Nebraska USF.