Panels Discuss Policy Insights

Hungry for insight from the FCC? Policymakers will convene on TELECOM 05 for a lunch and breakfast meeting with attendees, ready to talk about topics including the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Rural Utility Service (RUS).

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is the featured speaker at Wednesdays luncheon, which any fully paid conference registrant can attend.

Right now, the commission has several issues on its plate that are important to the telecom industry, including establishing a sustainable universal service system that reflects the dramatic changes in todays communications market, says Ed Merlis, senior vice president of government and regulatory policy for USTelecom. Along with preserving USF, the commission also is looking at ways to modernize the intercarrier compensation system. With the presidents goal of universal availability of broadband by 2007, Chairman Martin will lead efforts to achieve this important goal and set a framework to help spur deployment.

USTelecom executives say they asked Martin to speak at the TELECOM 05 show because of his role at the FCC, developing policies for the communications industry. With his firm grasp of how consumers benefit from a thriving communications market, we look forward to hearing Chairman Martins insight on whats next for communications, says Merlis.

On Thursday morning for anyone registered for access to the TELECOM 05 keynotes, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will talk about rural development programs. A panel featuring FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, NTIA Director Mike Gallagher, and Ambassador David A. Gross, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy for the Department of State, will follow.

Johanns has oversight over rural development programs including the RUS, which offers loans and grants to help deploy communications services and broadband in rural America. Secretary Johanns understands the importance of communications to rural economic development, and RUS is the linchpin for ensuring economic growth in rural communities, says Merlis. Over the years, RUS has helped connect millions of Americans and the Department of Agriculture will definitely play an important role in meeting the presidents goal of ubiquitous availability of broadband across the nation by 2007.

Meanwhile, the panel following Johanns speech brings together government representatives who help craft the nations communications policies. At NTIA, Gallagher serves as the administrations point person on technology and telecom issues, Merlis notes. From his position in the Commerce Department, he has a keen understanding of how the telecom sector drives the nations economy. He also recognizes the importance of maintaining the nations leading role in the competitive world marketplace and the need for rules to help spur American innovation in the sector, adds Merlis.

Right now, the commission has several important items on its plate, including intercarrier compensation, IP-enabled services, CALEA for broadband and setting a new mechanism for universal service contributions, says Merlis.

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