By Ryan Womack, Reporter-Researcher, BroadbandCensus.com
WASHINGTON, June 10, 2009 - The proposed increase in the consumer contributions to the the Universal Service Fund came under fire Tuesday from the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.
"With high unemployment levels, foreclosures across the nation and everyone's household budgets being stretched thin, we call on the FCC to reduce the proposed hike in the Universal Service Fund's contribution level,” NASUCA President David Springe, said in a statement. The proposed increase would bring the USF contribution to 12.9 percent of a users bill, compared with the previous high of 11.4 percent.
Every telephone user in the country pays into the USF whether they know it or not. Not a tax, the monies are deposited in a trust fund used to maintain and subsidize rural telephone service to places where it would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.
The USF is controlled by the Universal Service Administrative Company, and overseen by a joint board consisting of FCC and state-level commissioners.
The fund has four main goals: ensure reasonable rates for all consumers, assist low-income families in telecommunications, enable rural health care companies telecommunication capabilities, and assist eligible schools and libraries in providing low-cost internet access.
A pilot proposal floated last year by then-FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would expand two USF programs to provide broadband internet access to selected homes, using a $30 million trial system based on the current Life Line and Link Up programs. The proposal was endorsed by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners at its Winter meeting earlier this year.
With over $7 billion in the USF trust fund according to some estimates, NASUCA says the joint board can easily expend these available funds rather than increase carrier contributions.
While acknolwedging USF's continued usefulness, Springe suggested the present “[struggle] with a national recession” means consumers needs should weigh heavier on the joint board's recommendations. “The goals of the universal service fund are extremely important, but to demand that consumers pay the highest contribution level in history is to hurt the very customers we are trying to help.”
- Smart Cities Connect to Hold 2020 Global Event Honoring 50 Smart Projects
- Broadband Roundup: More on the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, 5G National Advocacy, and Policy Hackers
- Panelists on NTIA Broadband Webinar Say Smart Buildings Boost Civic Resiliency and Public Health
- Dynamic Spectrum Sharing Subject of Debate at Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on the Future
- FTC Settlement with YouTube Has Creators Upset and Worried About FTC Approach to Children’s Privacy
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Open Access3 weeks ago
UTOPIA Fiber: A Model Open-Access Network
China2 months ago
Prakash Sangam: China’s Huawei Clones Are Greater Threat to National Security than Huawei
Broadband's Impact3 months ago
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Praises Agency’s Work in Promoting High-Speed Internet at ‘Broadband Heros’ Event
Open Access2 months ago
UTOPIA Fiber Announces Partnerships with Morgan, Utah, Idaho Falls, and Other Cities
Broadband Mapping & Data3 months ago
Broadband Data From Providers Needs to be Checked With Data From Users, Say Panelists at Mapping Event
Education2 months ago
State Educational Technology Officials Say Better Broadband Necessary for Pedagogy and Equity
FCC2 months ago
As Next Year’s C-Band Auction Looms, FCC Officials Reflect on Innovation in Spectrum Auctions
FCC1 month ago
Telephony Industry Rises to the Challenge of Robocalls, With Legislation, Regulation and Enforcement Close Behind