That was the primary conclusion of a regulatory panel here Thursday morning that did point out one bright spot: The multiple associations that represent rural telecom have come together to speak with one voice in the nation's capital, something that hasn't always happened in the past.
There seems to be real doubt as to whether anyone is listening.
"When I wake up on good days, I think [FCC Chairman] Julius Genachowski doesn't understand rural America," says Glenn Brown, president of telecom consultancy Brown and McLean and panel moderator. "When I wake up on bad days, I wonder if he cares."
Rural companies were initially happy to see that the FCC planned a transition period in which it phased out the Universal Service Fund, reformed Intercarrier Compensation and created Connect America to fund broadband in underserved areas. But they now see the FCC taking away much more money than it plans to give back, with telcos in high-cost areas losing as much as 70 percent of their funding. (See NTCA Relieved USF Reform Includes Transition Time and Rural Telcos Go Toe-to-Toe With DC.)
Here are the primary pain points, according to the panel:
Opastco, NTCA and a number of other groups are presenting a united front to the FCC and Congress, and encouraging their members to reach out, particularly to their U.S. senators, to make clear the impact of what the FCC has planned, Brown says.
— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading