Satellite players want a piece of reconfigured Universal Service Fund

Satellite companies are trying to catch the ear of FCC commissioners who are reworking the Universal Service Fund (USF) to more closely focus on national broadband deployments and less on universal voice service.

In comments filed with the Commission, Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH), Hughes Network Systems, ViaSat and WildBlue Communications said that despite FCC concerns that satellite service won't reach the minimum 4 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream broadband threshold, there is "no valid technical reason to exclude satellite broadband providers from participating fully and directly."

Satellite's present limitations will be overcome by added capacity when new birds are launched in 2011 and 2012, so their ability to rain down broadband from the skies should not be minimized or ignored.

USF reforms were a big part of the discussion--and a major point of interest--during the ACA Summit of small-medium cable operators last week in Washington, D.C., where ACA President-CEO told members that the organization "in general" supports a "competitively neutral fund" that protects the rights of existing small telcos (some of which are ACA members) from government-backed competition.

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