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USF

Creatively Tapping the Universal Service Fund to Address Hurricane Maria Damage in Puerto Rico

BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing a creative response to repair the damage done by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico by tapping into the Universal Service Fund for necessary infrastructure repairs. A decision on the matter is planned for the agency's October 24 meeting, but could happen sooner. FCC proposes… Keep Reading

Rural Americans Disproportionately Lack Access to Broadband, Says Small Business Committee

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2017 - Among rural Americans, 39 percent lack access to high speed internet compared to only 4 percent of urban Americans who lack access, said Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, at a hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill. He said more needs to be done to get rural Americans service on par with urban… Keep Reading

There Was Little to Show for Digital Broadband During the ‘Infrastructure Week’ at the White House

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2017 — Despite myriad public events and a soundbyte-friendly title of “Infrastructure Week,” last week the White House was light on infrastructure and nearly empty of plans to build out 21st century digital infrastructure of fiber or wireless broadband. “There’s not going to be a lot of detail at this time,” a… Keep Reading

Universal Service Administrative Corp. Unveils ‘New Look,’ Will Address Programs at Rural Telecom Congress

DALLAS, April 18, 2017 - The Universal Service Administrative  Corporation may not grab broadband headlines, but the once-obscure federal agency is central to helping rural America and other stakeholders get Broadband Broadband, Better Lives. USAC's programs, plus its "new look," will be the subject of the lead panel at the Rural Telecommunications Congress happening here… Keep Reading

Broadband's Impact

While Universal Service Reforms Show Promise, Politics Clouds Fund’s Future

ASPEN, Colorado, August 19, 2015 - In spite of several positive efforts to reform the complex and dated rules that govern the Federal Communication Commission's universal service fund, key decisions surrounding the $8 billion annual fund remain ineluctably political. That was the message shared by panelists, including a commissioner at the FCC, speaking at a session on Tuesday at the Technology Policy Institute's annual forum here. For example, the panelists -- which also include two economists, a cable industry lobbyist and the former director of the National Broadband Plan -- applauded efforts to bring greater economic efficiency to telecom network construction through a system known as a "reverse auction." They also supported efforts to promote broadband adoption by providing income-based vouchers for the purpose of internet services. But decisions about the allocation of funds within the USF -- and the key question of how the fund is to be paid for -- remain political hot potatoes. Embedded image permalink Moderator Scott Wallsten of the Technology Policy Institute, with panelists Mignon Clyburn, James Assey, Blair Levin, Gregory Rosston, and Bradley Wimmer. [more...] Keep Reading

FCC/Fiber/Net Neutrality/Wireless

Broadband Roundup: FTC a Loser Under Title II, Rural Gigabit Projects, and Wireless Sponsored Data

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2014 - In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission noted that some of its regulatory authority would be lost if the FCC decided to regulate broadband as a public utility. The FTC protects the privacy and security of consumer data by imposing obligations on broadband service providers… Keep Reading

FCC Announces Universal Service Fund Strike Force in Effort to Combat Wasteful Spending

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2014 - In an effort to combat ongoing complaints of inefficiency within the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund, Chairman Tom Wheeler on Monday announced a strike force dedicated to "rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse." To be led by Loyaan Egal, a former public corruption attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Office… Keep Reading

Press Releases

Press Release: Alaska to Receive Federal Funds for Rural Wireless Improvement Efforts

In light of new developments in the Universal Service Fund, this press release about the Tribal Mobility Fund caught our eye.... March 5, 2014 - The Federal Communications Commission announced that Alaska’s largest telecommunication provider, General Communication, Inc. (NASDAQ:GNCMA), is eligible to receive $41.4 million for rural 3G/4G wireless projects as part of its Tribal… Keep Reading

Expert Opinion: Business as Usual Despite Departure of Universal Service Administrative Company CEO

Although it is the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) that is charged with implementing the ambitious universal service policy goals set forth in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the “Act”), the FCC designated the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”), an independent, not-for-profit corporation, to administer the day-to-day operations of federal universal service. USAC bills… Keep Reading

Our Broadband Election – and the Next Chapter of High-speed Internet in America

November 5, 2012 – In the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election four years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama repeatedly raised the importance of “expanding broadband lines across America” as part of the economic stimulus plan that become the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. During the first year of his administration, many parties honed in on… Keep Reading

How to Tackle Broadband Adoption by the Nation’s Underserved Populations

WASHINGTON, Thursday, July 26, 2012 - Last week, the fourth year of the Broadband Breakfast Club Series came to an end with a timely panel on “Bringing Broadband Adoption to the Nation’s Underserved Population.”  Panelists from the private, nonprofit and state government sectors came together to discuss what can be done to promote broadband usage in… Keep Reading

Spectrum Bill and Broadband Breakfast Pre Holiday Wrap Up

WASHINGTON December 14, 2011 – The FCC, the Hill and the Telecom industry has been busy over the last couple of weeks. Here is a wrap-up of the most important events. House Passes Spectrum Auction Incentive Bill After a 234-193 vote, the House Payroll Tax Extension Bill incorporated the full version of the Republican Incentive… Keep Reading

Senate Hears ‘Consensus Framework’ Proposal and Concerns for Universal Service Reform

Thursday October 13th 2011 - As BroadbandBreakfast.com gears up for our panel on “Bringing Broadband Infrastructure to Rural Areas: Where is the Progress?” we have been taking some notes on the FCC’s efforts to reform the Universal Service Fund and listened in on Wednesday’s Senate Commerce Hearing on “Universal Service Reform – Bringing Broadband to… Keep Reading

Free State Foundation Panel Calls for USF, Intercarrier Compensation Reform

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2011 - The Free State Foundation, a free-market think thank, assembled key industry experts Wednesday and pressed for the immediate need for reforms to the Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation systems. For the past year, the Federal Communications Commission has worked on updating the Universal Service Fund to handle the demands of broadband expansion rather than voice service. Keep Reading

FCC Paves Way For Comprehensive USF Reform At Open Meeting

WASHINGTON, February 9, 2011 - The FCC adopted a measure during Tuesday's open meeting that lays the groundwork for revisions to the nation's telephone subsidy systems in the near-term and an eventual overhaul to transition those systems into building and supporting broadband infrastructure. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was adopted unanimously by the Commission, draws a roadmap to reforming the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the closely related intercarrier compensation (ICC) system. Keep Reading

Chairman Genachowski Outlines FCC Goals at Consumer Electronics Show

LAS VEGAS, January 10, 2011 - FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski highlighted the Commission's successes in the 111th Congress and looked to its goals in the 112th during a discussion with at the Consumer Electronics Show on Friday. The conversation between the Chairman and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) CEO, Gary Shapiro, took place in front of a crowd of hundreds of tech industry representatives, analysts and journalists at the Las Vegas Convention Center and focused almost entirely on the need for sound, progressive mobile broadband policy. Keep Reading

Rockefeller Attacks FCC, Calls for Change

WASHINGTON, August 4, 2010 –Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) attributed the aftermath of the Big Branch Explosion in West Virginia to “a troubling lack of communications facilities in our rural communities.” The cause of this void, Rockefeller argued, was the Federal Communications Commission’s model for reaching universal service. Keep Reading

FCC/Universal Service

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

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. “ Keep Reading

FCC/Universal Service

FCC Uncovers New Funding For Universal Service Program

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2010 – Last week, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) released a budget projecting that $900 million in unused administrative costs would be extended to schools and libraries, pursuant to the FCC’s Universal Service Program. The unused funding comes from FCC budget surpluses in the years 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The FCC will extend the funds irrespective of the annual cap, pursuant to Section 54.507(a)(2) of the Commission’s rules, which states states, in part, that “all funds that are collected and that are unused from prior years shall be available for use in the next full funding year of the schools and libraries mechanism in accordance with the public interest and notwithstanding the annual cap.” Keep Reading

FCC/Universal Service

Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee Reviewed Universal Service Reform

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2010 – Universal Service reform is one of the key components of the National Broadband Plan and a principal which many in the telecommunications industry believe needs to happen before the current system collapses. On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation held hearings to determine the state of the Universal Service Fund and to hear testimony to determine what should be done to reform it. While the hearing was titled “Universal Service: Transforming the High-Cost Fund for the Broadband Era” many of the Republican Senators spent a majority of their questions on reclassification not on universal service. Keep Reading

Aspen Institute Communications and Society Fellow Blair Levin Gives Insight to National Broadband Plan

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2010. Blair Levin, former executive director of the Omnibus Broadband Initiative at the Federal Communications Commission, spoke about some of the issues that were included and not included in the writing of the National Broadband Plan. He picked out three key initiatives in the National Broadband Plan: spectrum appropriation, the unbundling of cable systems, and universal service. Keep Reading

National Broadband Plan: A Look at Chapters 1 & 2

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2010 - The national broadband plan aims to present not just a roadmap of how to expand broadband but also to provide a long-term vision of innovation. While the first chapter of the plan explains its overarching goals and congressional mandate, the plan is really outlined in the second chapter. The plan has six goals that the Federal Communications Commission plans to achieve through four general recommendations. Keep Reading

Reflections on ‘Sustainable Adoption’ for Round 2 of Broadband Stimulus

LAKE FOREST, Ill., January 11, 2010 - Last July when the Round 1 of Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program was announced, Don Samuelson suggested that public housing authorities across the country ought to be applying to BTOP for financial assistance to promote the use of the Internet by their senior residents: “Every public housing authority in the United States should apply for stimulus funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Agency to set up a program to promote the benefits and use of the Internet for its senior housing residents. The goal should be to make the case for the practical benefits of broadband and the Internet sufficiently compelling so that seniors would want a computer and Internet connection in their individual units. The use of the Internet should be as valuable as a TV or a phone. This is a 'value proposition' that remains to be made. ” It appears that no one followed the suggestion. There were no sustainable adoption proposals in the first round of BTOP for senior housing. We’ve since updated our analysis and refined our thinking. Keep Reading

FCC Releases First Draft of National Broadband Plan After Weighing Record

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2009 – The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday laid out a rough draft of its national broadband plan after weighing through 66,000 pages of written comments, 27 public notices, 100 items posted on its “blogband” web site, and 700 blog comment posted to the record. But the agency says it is still difficult to answer key questions that must be addressed within two months time, or by February 17, 2010. Keep Reading

FCC

Small Telcos Push for Broadband-Focused Universal Service Reform

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2009 - Broadband should be the central focus of the next generation of the Universal Service Fund, OPASTCO said Monday in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission. TheOrganization for the Promotion and Aid of Small Telecommunications Companies' comments highlight a plan to push affordable broadband to the rural areas those carriers serve. Keep Reading

First County to Declare Broadband a Legal Right: Not Finland, but Switzerland

October 31, 2009 - Finland made headlines earlier this month in declaring that broadband had become a legal right. While this startled some people, the Finns were not the first people to declare this – the Swiss were. Further, in 2003, at the World Summit on the Information Society, a declaration of principles was drafted and signed by a number of nations around the world, including the United States. Keep Reading

D.C. Circuit Seemed to Support FCC Position on Universal Service: Report

The universal service fund has been growing at an alarming rate over the past few years, and in order to curb its growth the Federal Communications Commission choose to cap the amount of support a competitive eligible telecommunications company could receive in 2008. The Rural Cellular Association filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit court of appeals to remove this cap. The court seemed to support the position of the FCC in capping the fund, according to a Monday research report by Stifel Nicholas. Keep Reading

Universal Service

Among Friends, Boucher Stays on Message at CDT Gala

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2009 - As 700 of Washington's technology and political elite gathered Tuesday night at the Center for Democracy and Technology's annual fundraising gala, guests celebrated new-found progress and the hope brought by a new administration, but called for further action to fulfill many of the organization's longstanding goals. Keep Reading

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