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Modernizing and Streamlining the Universal Service Fund

February 7th, 2011 by Haley Van Dÿck - FCC New Media

This morning, Chairman Genachowski laid out a proposal to get broadband to rural America while cutting waste and inefficiency in two of the Commission's largest programs.

Universal service has been core to the FCC's mission since the Communications Act of 1934 created the agency and committed our nation to making vital communications services accessible to all. The Universal Service Fund helped connect virtually every American to our 20th century communications grid. But this program, along with Commission's closely related Intercarrier Compensation rules, have become riddled with waste and inefficiency and are not up to our nation's broadband challenge. Today, up to 24 million Americans have no access to broadband;fixed or mobile.

At tomorrow's meeting, the Commission will vote on the proposal to transform the Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation rules from programs designed to support 20th Century voice networks to a force for expansion of 21st century fixed and mobile broadband and voice networks, while eliminating waste and inefficiency.

Read the full text of Chairman Genachowski's speech here.

4 Responses to “Modernizing and Streamlining the Universal Service Fund”

  1. Rural Teleco says:

    While I support the efforts by the Commission to develop and broadband-focused Universal Service Fund (USF) mechanism, the NBP approach is fundamentally flawed and should not be instituted. The plan fails to provide sufficient funding to support the build-out and maintenance of universal broadband services in rural America as called for in the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

    Additionally, the Commission should not impose caps or freezes on the high-cost portion of the USF or shift rural communications service providers to incentive regulation. More reasonable and workable broadband USF alternatives exist and should be considered including the incorporation of actual cost-based support. The NBP also fails to recognize the critical role rural carriers play as “Carries of Last Resort” in rural areas.

    For decades, small independent communications service providers have invested in networks in rural areas based on a relatively predictable regulatory structure and support provided by the USF. As proposed, the NBP abandons this approach endangering the national goal of affordable and comparable service for all citizens, including those living in rural areas.

    The economic future of our nation is riding on the development of a robust communications network. The NBP as written will lead to job loss, less investment in rural areas, a further erosion of state and local economies, and the deterioration of communications in our community.

  2. Steve Kibbons says:

    Wonderful goal. I live in semi-rural Kentucky, and pay more for our phone service than the rest of our utilities combined, yet ATT refuses to offer broadband to our road. I use my mobile phone for internet access, but that's pretty frustrating. Good luck.

  3. A Rural Resident says:

    I had my computer do text to speech with the Speech that was posted in the blog post. There is alot of things in my Area in California that falls under alot of those issues. The local telecom"Verizon" had limited DSL slots then in Oct 09 then ran out and not wanting to open up anymore. when I moved to the area I am which is rural there was no DSL, Cable, or WiMAX available and all they offered was was Dial-up and Satellite internet like Wildblue or Hughesnet is way to high on prices and you can't do any realtime stuff on it like VoIP and the stuff I do Videogames and manage game servers. Also Satellite Internet has a cap depending on the Provider like HughesNet has a max of 500MBs perday and Wildblue with a max of 17GB which is easier to burn through with the internet today. I was on Dial-up for sometime a few months ago that maxed out at 46.6Kbps with very high Packet Loss rates like 100+ per min alot of times. Then the only other Internet that is in my area is mobile only 3G and that has a Cap of 5GBs per months with a good service. The area is still Waiting for 4G from mobile companys like Verizon LTE, Sprint/clearwire WiMAX, Tmobile 4G. The libary is on 1 DSL business line between 10+ computer and has no WiFi Hotspot. The only other place with a Free WiFi hotspot were I am is McDonalds with there AT&T WiFi which you can only stay on as long as your battery last on your Notebook/Netbook because there is no AC plugs to plugin. Also I heard from a person that is a Verizon DSL user were I am that here DSL goes down for almost the whole day alot of times.

    I choose to go with Virgin Mobile Broadband2go for there $40 unlimited plan because it was unlimited and unthrottled at the time but this month on the 15th that are doing a Sudo cap were it is unthrottled for the first 5GBs then after that you get a speed cap of 250Kbps, but in my situation the 3G is shared for a house hold with 3 laptops, 2 towers, 1 Bluray player, 1 PS3, 1 Nintendo Wii and we can wind up using over 22GB/s a month. Were my House is there is a Fiber line running along it and I can't get Any landline Broadband and I want to because 3G on my data card goes around
    during the Day time and at the moment"Ping=797 Download=99Kbps Upload=87Kbps resaults from speedtest.net"Virgin Mobile IP addresses desolve in KS. for some reason when I am in California

    http://www.speedtest.net/result/1154802096.png

  4. Guest says:

    Moved to rural Nebraska and Windstream will not strengthen the broadband signal to reach me. Only less than a mile over their current coverage. My current plan with Windstreams bundles the broadband so I am paying for a service and not receiving it. Doesn't seem right for me. What chooses do I have?
    I have to use the public library for internet.

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