WASHINGTON, September 7, 2010 – The Federal Communications Commission late last week laid out part of its plan to reform the universal service fund, including pushing Sprint and Nextel to live up to their commitments to surrender their high-cost universal support over five years.
In the order issued Sept. 3, the agency says that the surrendered support shouldn’t have to be redistributed to other telecommunications carriers.
It also directs that the surrendered support be reserved for a potential down payment on broadband USF reforms as it laid out in the National Broadband Plan. The reforms recommended that the e-rate fund be indexed to inflation, support should be given to the mobility fund to provide wireless broadband services in areas that lack coverage and to improve use of the rural health care program offering advanced telemedicine to rural areas and tribal lands.
In its notice of proposed rulemaking accompanying the order, the FCC is seeking comments on its recommendations to best use reclaimed excess high-cost support.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that the agency’s decision “ensures that USF support for mobile voice that Verizon Wireless and Sprint had previously agreed to relinquish will be used as a down payment on broadband universal service reform.”
He added that USF transformation won’t be easy, “but it’s underway.”