FCC wants to shift USF focus towards broadband

In order to increase broadband speeds and availability under the proposed broadband plan it will turn in to Congress next week, the FCC wants to reallocate the $4.6 billion currently used to provide rural voice service toward subsidizing broadband connections under the current $8.7 billion Universal Service Fund (USF).

While there are still no specific details on how the FCC will achieve this goal, Carol Mattey, an FCC senior policy adviser, said the change will take place over 10 years.

Not surprisingly, Verizon--a champion of USF reform--applauded the FCC's recommendations. "The broadband team's recommendations are bold and practical," said Kathleen Grillo, Verizon senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs in a release. "The commission appears to want to take these tough problems head-on and provide a rational framework for repairing the broken subsidy systems. The industry should support this proposal. It makes sense to focus limited Universal Service Fund resources on broadband, rather than layering new support on top of existing voice subsidies."

The notion of reallocating USF funds towards broadband deployment is not just relegated to the U.S. alone. Last week, the European Commission's executive branch said it wants to examine how the "telecom universal services law" could include broadband access.

For more:
- Bloomberg has this article

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