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FCC dispute to be addressed at independent communication firm's meeting

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Saturday, June 15, 2013, 1:46 a.m.
 

As a follow-up to the town hall informational meeting held last spring, Laurel Highlands Total Communications will hold a meeting next week to let customers know the status of their struggles with the FCC, which will result in a slight rate increase.

“This meeting will be an update on what we discussed at our town hall meeting last May 15,” Laurel Highlands Total Communications President and CEO Jim Kail said. “We want to let the people know what is going on and what our efforts have been.”

Like other small, independent communication companies across the country, Laurel Highlands Total Communications is dealing with new regulations and restrictions that are occurring in regards to the FCC's recent Universal Service Reform, or USR.

LHTC customers' bills rose slightly last summer due to imposed regulations and restrictions and will increase another 50 cents in July.

“The large carriers are making all the money and now smaller companies are reluctant to reinvest,” Kail said. “The small companies are being crushed by the FCC's growing regulatory requirements. We are spending more and more time working on compliance filings, and as you can imagine, it's draining our limited resources and hindering our ability to serve customers.”

Kail said he plans to explain to the customers and community members at Tuesday's meeting about the USR and how it may affect the future of small communications companies.

“We give high quality service at affordable prices,” Kail said, explaining that the smaller companies were created to offer communication services to people who live in the rural areas of the country. “But they have taken out the incentive for the small companies to build in rural America. It's a complicated issue, but there needs to be reform.”

Kail said he wants to take time at the meeting to explain what the FCC is imposing on rural Americans.

“I want to let the people of this area know that this is out of control,” Kail said. “There has to be some accountability. They are imposing a whole pile of regulations on the smaller companies, and we have limited resources. What we are dealing with is a big bullying agency. There is a lot of frustration, and we are facing a steep, uphill battle.”

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Cook Township Community Center.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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