Emery Telcom recently received several customer inquiries regarding a new 50Вў charge on their phone bill.
The new charge is an “Access Recovery Charge” (ARC) and is the result of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) implementation of its Universal Service Fund/Inter Carrier Compensation Transformation Order.В As a result of heavy lobbying efforts by large carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, this order contains new rules that hurt rural customers and telecommunications providers. В Essentially, the order reduces the amount that rural providers can charge larger carriers and redirects government funding previously received by rural telephone companies.В The FCC expects the shortfall in this funding to be passed to the end user customers in the form of an ARC charge which is supposed to increase over time as the rates to large carriers decrease.В Carbon/Emery Telcom does not get any extra money from this charge as it is only a partial offset to the corresponding lost government funding and large carrier decreases.В Carbon/Emery thinks the increase to its customers is unfair and has taken many steps to prevent its implementation including:
В· Carbon/Emery delayed the implementation of the ARC charge as directed by the FCC Order from June 2012 to January 2013.
В· Filing opposition comments and waiver requests with the FCC regarding the applicability of the charge to our customers and requesting recalculations of offsetting funding for Carbon/Emery Telcom.
Though Carbon/Emery opposed the ARC charges and did not immediately implement them, on December 17th we were notified that we would lose government funding equal to the amount of the charge if we did not implement the charge.
The telecommunications industry is highly regulated both by the FCC and State Public Service Commissions, with the goal of Universal Service which is to provide all customers with high quality phone service at reasonable rates.В In Utah, the Public Service Commission has established a rate of $16.50 as the base affordable rate to charge whether you live in a densely populated, low cost area like Salt Lake City or in a high cost, rural community like ours. В In addition to these base affordable rates, additional government mandated charges are required of all customers (rural or urban) to fund high cost rural areas such as ours and provide essential government services such as E911, Tele-Relay and Poison Control.В Like other utility companies, which have a large cost to their infrastructure, government regulation is needed to insure fair pricing and service to high cost areas and prevent expensive duplication of facilities.В Often people confuse this government control as a monopoly, but the reality is that the federal and state governments dictate the prices that can be charged and also the amount the company is allowed to keep. Emery Telcom, as a nonprofit, uses these funds to invest back into the communities it serves, or returns the money to its members.В Over the next six years fiber will be extended into the neighborhoods of Carbon & Emery Counties to provide the next generation of speed and services which our communities will need and that will not be available from wireless providers.В Carbon/Emery Telcom is committed to remain the cutting edge provider of these services.
Emery Telcom is the reason why the cellular networks are so good in our area.В We provide the data and wired backbone for all of the cellular traffic in the area. After the call travels from the cell phone to the tower, it is then carried back to VerizonвЂ™s switch center on Emery Telcom fiber.
We are not only a local company who keeps local money local; we are an industry that attracts вЂњoutsideвЂќ money into our area.В In 2012 we attracted over $6 Million of вЂњoutsideвЂќ money into our local economy.В This is something that Dish, Direct, River Canyon Wireless, and the cellular companies cannot say.В Some of this money covers operating expenses, but $3 to $5 million is directly used to improve the telecommunications infrastructure of our local communities each year.В В We also use a portion of our regulated allowed profit to sponsor programs that benefit our communities including scholarships, youth programs, community events, charities, and monthly direct donations to schools.
Emery Telcom no longer requires a phone line to subscribe to Internet services (subject to availability at the desired service address).