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What Will Broadband Do to the Universal Service Fund?

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Officials from Office of Rep. Rick Boucher, CTIA – The Wireless Association, Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance, and E9-1-1 Institute at Broadband Breakfast Club on January 13

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WASHINGTON, January 6, 2009 – In telecommunications circles, a bevy of experts and lobbyists are energetically discussing the role that broadband will play in the current fiscal stimulus package.

One feature common to many stimulus-related proposals is an effort to change the Universal Service Fund. The USF currently provides funding for rural telephone service, hookups to “lifeline” service, and internet connections for schools and libraries. Change seems destined to come to the USF as its structure is revised to accomodate broadband-related funding.

Experts familiar with broadband and role of the USF will discuss the question of “What Will Broadband Do to the Universal Service Fund” at the next monthly event of the Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.

The panelists are Jay Driscoll, director of government affairs for the wireless association CTIA; Gregory Rohde, executive director of the E9-1-1 Institute and E-Copernicus, and formerly head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; Jennifer Schneider, legislative counsel to Virginia Democrat Rep. Rick Boucher; and Curt Stamp, the president of the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance, which represents mid-size and smaller telecommunications carriers.

The discussion will be centered around both past efforts to change the USF — Rep. Boucher was a leading author of attempts to include broadband in the fund — and current stimulus-related proposals that bear on the fund. As with each monthly meeting of the breakfast club, the discussion will take place at the Old Ebbitt Grill, at 675 15th Street NW, in Washington.

The breakfast host and moderator will be Drew Clark, executive director of BroadbandCensus.com, a free information and news service that provides the public with an objective measure of where broadband is available, which carriers offer it, whether their actual speeds match their promised speeds, and how consumers rate their service quality.

Beginning at 8 a.m., an American plus Continental breakfast is available downstairs in the Cabinet Room. This is followed by a discussion, beginning around 8:40 a.m. and ending at 10 a.m. The breakfast club  meets on the second Tuesday of each month until March 2009. The registration page for the event is http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

The November meeting, “Should Government Funding Be Part of a National Broadband Plan?” featured a discussion with Stan Fendley of Corning, Kyle McSlarrow of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and telecommunications consultant John Windhausen, Jr.

The December meeting, “How Applications and Broadband Mapping Harness Demand for High-Speed Internet,” included Geoff Daily, a blogger for App-Rising.com; Susan Fox, a vice president at Walt Disney; Neal Neuberger, executive director of the Institute for e-Health Policy; and Alan Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute.

The meeting on Tuesday, February 10, 2009, will be on “The Role of Wireless Frequencies in Widespread Broadband Deployment,” and will include a representative from Clearwire, as well as several other invited guests.

The meeting on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, will be on “Broadband Competition: Do We Have It, and How Do We Get More of It?” and will feature James Baller, president of Baller Herbst Law Group; Art Brodsky, communication director of Public Knowledge; Scott Wallsten, vice president for research and senior fellow, Technology Policy Institute; and others.

Registration for future breakfasts is available at http://broadbandbreakfastclub.eventbrite.com.

Because of the limited size of the venue, seated attendance will be reserved the first 45 individuals to register. There are no restrictions on who may register to attend. With the exception of speakers, there is a $45.00 charge (plus a modest Eventbrite fee) to attend. The events are on the record.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com provides data and reporting about broadband in the states, and about telecommunications policy issues. BroadbandCensus.com uses “crowdsourcing” to allow internet users to share information about their internet experiences. Take the Broadband Census today at http://broadbandcensus.com/census/form.

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