Federal Communications Commission

Reforming Universal Service for Broadband?

November 19th, 2009 by Carol Mattey - Deputy Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau

Virtually everyone agrees that the current universal service program is broken.  But how to fix it – that’s the $64 million question.  Oh, make that the $7 billion question and growing.  At the same time, universal service has the potential to help provide affordable broadband everywhere.  But if we are going to make that happen, we can’t explode the size of the fund in the process.   It’s not telephone companies that pay for universal service.  It's you and me and everyone else in America that pays.   We have to decide as a nation what exactly we are trying to achieve with the universal service fund and how we can best direct those resources to benefit consumers.

As part of our data-driven process to develop the National Broadband Plan, we are seeking additional comment in a Public Notice released last week relating to various aspects of universal service and intercarrier compensation We aren’t looking for more general advocacy about the need to reform universal service or intercarrier compensation; we want solid factual analyses and data to help shape the path forward.  For instance, we want to know how changes in the universal service fund contribution methodology will impact consumers, how high-cost funding can be targeted to unserved areas, and what specific steps the Commission could take to make broadband more affordable for low income consumers.  Please file comments using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.   You should note in your comments that you are responding to Public Notice #19.  You can also post comments on Blogband, and they will be included in the record for the National Broadband Plan.

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