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CenturyLink Applauds Internet Tax Freedom Act Extension

President Obama today signed into law legislation that extends the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA).

“CenturyLink commends Congress for passing and the president for signing legislation that protects consumers and businesses from new taxes on Internet access through Oct. 1, 2015,” said CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Vice President for Federal Legislative Affairs David Bartlett. “And, we encourage lawmakers to continue working toward a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would provide lasting protection from the hundreds of individual tax jurisdictions around the country that are poised to levy new taxes on Internet use. Permanent extension of the ITFA would help create the kind of marketplace certainty that encourages broadband adoption and network investment. We look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass a permanent fix in the next Congress.”

ITFA is a temporary tax moratorium that has been extended several times since it was first signed into law in 1998. Legislation that would permanently extend ITFA was introduced in the 113th Congress by U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

For more information, please see a previous public policy blog post on ITFA entitled, CenturyLink Joins Coalition To Prevent Government From Taxing Internet Access.

 

 

CenturyLink Comments On Connect America Fund Phase II Order

The FCC adopted an order finalizing Phase II of the Connect America Fund today.

“CenturyLink is pleased that the FCC has updated the federal Universal Service Fund and begun implementing Phase II of the Connect America Fund program,” CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Executive Vice President for Public Policy and Government Relations Steve Davis. “We may soon be able to bring high-speed Internet service to many rural customers who lack broadband today. However, it is clear that the effect of the program will be smaller than originally anticipated. In particular, we’re disappointed that after taking more than three years to write this order, the FCC has adopted such a restrictive timeline for the build-out to high-cost areas that we will not be able to build facilities to many of our rural customers. This means that customers in many of the areas that are most difficult to reach will have to wait until the FCC adopts workable auction rules before learning whether or not they will be eligible to receive broadband service.”

CenturyLink Awarded New DHS EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated Task Order

Company to provide cybersecurity services to government agencies

CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) recently was awarded a task order from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications to provide Intrusion Prevention Security Services, known as EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated (E³A) protections, to U.S. federal civilian agencies.

The one-year task order was issued under a four-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for EINSTEIN cybersecurity services that was previously awarded to CenturyLink in March 2013. DHS’s EINSTEIN program uses network traffic patterns indicating known or suspected malicious cyber activity to help participating federal agencies protect their IT systems.

The new task order includes additional managed security services and cybersecurity capabilities that will be integrated into the current CenturyLink E³A service, which is the first E³A intrusion prevention capability to achieve initial operating capability from DHS. The CenturyLink E³A service is also the first fully operational E³A system that is actively providing cybersecurity services to federal civilian agencies’ end-users.

The EINSTEIN program provides advanced email filtering and web Domain Name System spoofing protections, as well as signature-based intrusion detection, prevention and mitigation services to participating federal agencies under the guidance and oversight of DHS.

EINSTEIN capabilities are provided through a combination of commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software, government-developed software, and commercially available managed security services that are enhanced by DHS-provided information.

By supplying E³A cybersecurity services over its carrier-class network, CenturyLink is able to provide federal government agencies with the information security and reliability they need to carry out their missions.

“CenturyLink is proud to be selected to continue providing EINSTEIN cybersecurity protections to federal agencies,” said Lisa Bruch, CenturyLink Government acting senior vice president and general manager. “We’re excited to support DHS’s mission to provide federal agencies with advanced managed cybersecurity capabilities that offer additional protections to mitigate growing and evolving threats. The ability to share valuable cyber intelligence and information with an expanding list of federal agencies supports active awareness of immediate cyber threats and helps us protect and defend our nation’s federal IT systems.”

Bruch recognized Wray Varley, CenturyLink Government area vice president for advanced programs, and John Cassidy, CenturyLink Government branch director for the cybersecurity division, for their work on this program, and explained that the recent E³A task order award highlights a valuable partnership between CenturyLink Government and DHS. “We continue to work together to develop innovative managed cybersecurity services that are scalable and repeatable, and can be implemented quickly and efficiently by many federal civilian departments and agencies,” she said.

CenturyLink is also a fully approved commercial services provider for the DHS Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) program, which helps government-approved critical infrastructure entities protect their IT systems from unauthorized access, exploitation and data exfiltration.

CenturyLink is ranked No. 42 on Washington Technology’s 2014 Top 100 list of federal government IT contractors.

CenturyLink Applauds New Satellite Television Rules

President Obama signed the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization, known as STELAR, into law today.

“CenturyLink applauds Congress and the president for reauthorizing legislation that will increase investment, innovation, competition and consumer choice in the pay-TV market,” said CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Vice President of Federal Legislative Affairs David Bartlett. “STELAR goes a long way toward making retransmission consent negotiations more fair and balanced, and creates a more competitive pay-TV market for providers and consumers alike, but more video reform is needed.”

Over the past five years, CenturyLink has brought video competition and programming options through the launch of its Prism™ TV service to approximately 2 million homes in nearly a dozen markets and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in deploying high-speed broadband services to support its digital video product.

CenturyLink Adds Cloud Data Center Service To Its GSA Networx Contract

Company’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering now available to federal agencies  

CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) recently added its cloud data center service, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service product, to the list of items available to federal government agencies via the General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx Universal contract.

GSA’s Networx program is the largest telecommunications contract vehicle ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink’s cloud data center service, which includes virtual and dedicated platforms and offers a secure multitenant public cloud solution, is now available via the Networx Universal contract as well as GSA’s IT Schedule 70 contract, which is the largest, most widely used acquisition vehicle in the federal government.

CenturyLink’s cloud data center service offers connected public, private and hybrid cloud solutions that support the on-demand computing, storage, platform and application needs of large and small federal agencies. CenturyLink also provides managed security services that enable agile, dependable, scalable and secure IT solutions in the cloud.

By supplying cloud and managed hosting services over its carrier-class network, CenturyLink is able to provide government agencies with the security and reliability they need to carry out their many missions.

“CenturyLink is excited to be able to offer its Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud solution to federal government agencies via the Networx contract,” said Lisa Bruch, CenturyLink Government acting senior vice president and general manager.

CenturyLink is ranked No. 42 on Washington Technology’s 2014 Top 100 list of federal government IT contractors.

 

CenturyLink Applauds FCC Effort To Update Video Competition Rules

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently proposed to update the video competition rules in an FCC blog post entitled “Tech Transitions, Video and the Future.”

As a relatively new entrant in the pay-TV market, CenturyLink applauds Chairman Wheeler for his effort to level the playing field for access to video programming for all video providers, regardless of their size or the technology they use. This is an important step in the right direction that will increase investment, innovation and competition in the video marketplace and ultimately benefit consumers.

Over the past five years, CenturyLink has brought video competition and programming options through the launch of its Prism™ IPTV service to approximately 2 million homes in nearly a dozen markets and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in deploying high-speed broadband services to support its digital video product.

CenturyLink Urges Congress to Update Communications Act, Reform Universal Service Fund

CenturyLink submitted comments today commending the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for its efforts to revisit and revise the Communications Act in light of the significant technological and marketplace changes that have occurred since the law was last updated in 1996. Given these rapid and fundamental market changes, the current law no longer effectively promotes universal access to critical communications services.

We believe that universal service should continue to be a core objective of this country’s communications policy and that the primary goal of the Universal Service Fund (USF) should be to ensure the availability of sufficient communications, including voice and broadband Internet services, throughout this country.

To that end, CenturyLink supports FCC action to reform its existing high-cost support programs through the development of phase II of the Connect America Fund (CAF). We joined other telecommunications providers in recommending several specific changes to the program that will maximize its effectiveness. Notably, more than 100 federal, state and local legislators and executive officials have written to the FCC in support of giving providers the flexibility they need to deploy high-speed broadband connections to more unserved communities.

Making certain that USF can meet this goal while minimizing the burden on consumers and businesses is vital to achieving ubiquitous broadband availability across the country. However, the USF contribution rules have simply not kept pace with the vast technological changes. CenturyLink believes the USF contribution rules need to be revamped to broaden the contribution base, simplify the contribution methodology and ensure that similar services are subject to the same contribution obligations, regardless of provider.

Consumers in urban areas can usually choose from a variety of service providers because of lower network costs due to the larger number of residents. Consumers in more sparsely populated areas do not enjoy the same choices thanks to the higher costs to serve rural locations, but still need comparable services at comparable prices, which are only available with support from the USF high-cost program. However, USF support should not be used to artificially create competition in high-cost rural areas where it wouldn’t otherwise exist.

CenturyLink recognizes that federal support alone is unlikely to accomplish the national goal of universal service. State partnerships and funding are critical to meeting universal access to essential communication services in any given state.

In addition, USF support is supposed to be specific, predictable and sufficient. As the USF program is updated, mechanisms are needed to allow providers to make the most effective use of USF support.  By knowing the amount and terms of the support available for locations as well as the service obligations associated with that support, providers can make the best business decisions about accepting and using that support to help America achieve its goal of universal access to crucial communications services for everyone.

CenturyLink Applauds STAVRA As A Step In The Right Direction

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-S.D.), is preparing to update the expiring law that governs satellite television transmissions. The two lawmakers recently introduced the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA), which would overhaul outdated retransmission consent rules that reduce competition in the pay-TV market and hurt consumers.

U.S. Sens. Rockefeller and Thune have also shown tremendous leadership in putting forth an innovative proposal called “local choice” that would end programming blackouts and give consumers more control over which television stations they want to receive. With the debate over comprehensive communications reform on the horizon, we believe proposals like “local choice” are an important marker as Congress tries to update our nation’s telecommunications laws for the first time since 1996.

CenturyLink looks forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to pass STAVRA in the coming weeks. We support proposals like “local choice”  that move our nation closer to ending the archaic retransmission consent regime while promoting pay-TV competition and protecting consumers.

CenturyLink offers its Internet Protocol TV service known as Prism™ TV to approximately 2 million homes in 12 markets and invests hundreds of millions of dollars in deploying high-speed broadband services to support its digital video product.

CenturyLink Urges Congress To Update Communications Act, Retire Old Interconnection Rules

CenturyLink submitted comments today commending the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for its work examining interconnection issues as part of the committee’s efforts to modernize our nation’s telecommunications laws.

The outdated Communications Act saddles incumbent local exchange carriers like CenturyLink with burdensome interconnection obligations for traditional voice services that do not reflect today’s telecommunications environment nor apply to our competitors, even though wireline carriers now serve less than one-third of homes passed and traditional telephone services comprise less than 20 percent of all local voice connections.

In contrast, Internet-based and wireless networks have flourished by utilizing commercially-negotiated interconnection arrangements that are largely free of regulation. We are witnessing a fundamental market change as traditional wireline voice services rapidly give way to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

Given these trends, carrier-specific interconnection obligations need to be retired at the same time as the obsolete circuit-switched networks on which they are based.

As voice services move to IP-based networks, all providers have market incentives to negotiate commercial agreements that allow their customers to make calls to and receive calls from anyone, regardless of the technology used.

We believe that the fundamental market and technological changes since the last Communications Act update in 1996—including the transformation of voice from a standalone service to one of many IP-based applications—eliminate the need for carrier-specific or voice-specific interconnection mandates.

Congress can best further our national goals of promoting network investment and innovation by ensuring that all providers are subject to the same interconnection requirements and encouraging regulators to let the market prevail.

CenturyLink Applauds U.S. House Passage of Internet Tax Freedom Act Extension

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation that permanently extends the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA).

“CenturyLink commends the House of Representatives for passing legislation that protects consumers and keeps Internet access tax free,” said CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Executive Vice President for Public Policy and Government Relations Steve Davis. “Without permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, thousands of state and local jurisdictions could start levying new taxes on Internet access or bandwidth use, which could discourage broadband adoption and limit broadband investment. We look forward to working with the Senate to pass the companion bill and to seeing this important legislation enacted soon.”

ITFA is a temporary tax moratorium that is scheduled to expire Nov. 1, 2014. Legislation that would permanently extend ITFA, H.R.3086 and S.1431, has been introduced by U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

For more information, please see the previous blog post on ITFA: CenturyLink Joins Coalition To Prevent Government From Taxing Internet Access.