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Genachowski Calls Universal Service Fund ‘Broken’ in Speech to OPASTCO

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WASHINGTON, July 29, 2010 –Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, speaking to the annual Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) convention in Seattle yesterday, told his audience that he agreed with bipartisan critics of the Universal Fund as being “broken.”

“As the math of the overall Universal Service Fund gets worse each year, the importance of broadband to rural America gets greater,” Genachowski said. “There is a clear need to reform USF – not to end it, but to reorient USF to directly support broadband all over America. “

Genachowki laid out five canons of universal service reform, each of which would be designed to correct a problem with the current regime. In discussing these solutions, Genachowski seemed to admit that the current Universal Service system was past-oriented, inefficient, prone to violent regulatory shifts and fiscally irresponsible.

“Let’s not kick the ball down the road,” Genachowski said. “Let’s focus on principles, let’s focus on facts, let’s work together to reform USF, and provide clarity for the path forward.”

The appeal, along with Genachowki’s confidence that “100 megabits [as a universal connectivity speed] is a stretch goal in the United States,” did not fall on sympathetic ears. John Rose, Chairman of OPASTCO, noted in a panel following Genachowski’s speech that “We can’t deal with four meg.”

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