The Federal Communications Commission reportedly has recommended a new framework for the Universal Service Fund. The agency acted on an earlier recommendation from its joint federal-state advisory board, which late last week urged that the USF be capped at about $4.5 billion, and that separate USF coverage accounts be established for both broadband services and mobile services. Though the agency at large will now move forward to devise the new framework, the idea will face further scrutiny before it is formally put into action.
USF reform has been a simmering topic for some time in Washington. While some observers, including consumer groups and some rural telcos, feel this is a step in the right direction, others say more aggressive tactics are needed to fund rural broadband expansion. Many people who support more aggressive rural broadband policy would have the USF done away with altogether, in favor an entirely separate broadband-focused fund, or some other type of funding initiative.
- California regulators recently moved to reduce USF fees