Change in our industry happens at lightning speed and it’s easy to find yourself somewhat out of touch, especially with regulatory changes. As Agents, we’ve historically counted on the Service Providers to represent our collective interests with lawmakers and have stayed on the sidelines quietly cheering the team towards victory. Unfortunately, many of us were blind-sided in 2020 by a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Order prohibiting Agents from selling into and working with Customers that received government reimbursement from Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) Rural Health Care Program (RHC). Said reimbursements are administered by USAC through the Universal Service Fund. The Service Providers (through their associations and lobbyists) attempted to protect our interests but were unable to convince the FCC that Agents should be allowed to continue working with clients that receive reimbursement through the RHC Program. As a result of the FCC Order, on June 30, 2020, many Agents lost (earned) residual commissions at the account level for our Health Care clients participating in the Program with even a single rural or non-profit location in the RHC Program. Agents were removed and banned from further activity on the impacted accounts. That meant hospitals, clinics, and mental health providers that have historically depended upon Agents lost the valuable resources we provide in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020 a core group made up of the top Master Agents and prominent Direct Sellers formed a coalition to represent our interests directly with the FCC and argue that our involvement does not constitute a conflict of interest when dealing with RHC eligible clients. We decided that it was time to form the Channel’s first ever Non-Profit Association for Agents called the Technology Channel Sales Professional Association (TCSP). The negative impacts associated with the recent FCC Order made it obvious that we needed to focus our initial efforts to secure a clarification from the FCC that the new regulations excluded Agents. While TCSP’s initial focus is on the RHC Program, we are aware of the FCC’s interest to harmonize the same rules and regulations across other programs, like E-Rate. The long-term goal of TCSP is to be an advocacy organization for Agents. The association will accomplish this by acting as a regulatory watchdog to ensure that we have visibility into issues that affect the Agent community and a voice in Washington to prevent future regulatory changes from forming in our silence.
As the Chairperson of the Board for TCSP, I had a chance to speak with Craig and James from Channel Partners along with Bill Power, President of TCSP, to shed some light on the RHC issue and to educate the Channel community on our efforts to file a petition with the FCC seeking further clarification. In case you missed the podcast, I’ve attached a copy of the recording here so you can understand the significance of our efforts. We appreciate the support that we’ve received from Channel Partners and would encourage you to follow their podcasts to stay informed: https://www.
TCSP filed our petition with the FCC on February 9th. The FCC requires a 30 day public comment period following the filling of these types of petitions. To learn more about how you can assist us in our efforts and to stay informed on our progress, please visit the TCSP website: https://www.tcsp.org/about-