Broadband Must Be Top Priority in USF Reform

Contact Info: 
Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x22 or (703) 517-6273

WASHINGTON -- Free Press filed a letter last night urging the Federal Communications Commission to make universal, affordable broadband a priority in any plans to reform the Universal Service Fund.

The fund currently subsidizes telephone networks in underserved rural areas -- but in the face of rapid technological change, this phone-based system has become increasingly outdated.

The first set of reforms is expected to include changes to "intercarrier compensation" -- the rates that phone companies charge one another to place calls on their networks. These changes will likely result in increased rates for rural customers. Free Press is calling on the FCC to ensure that any reforms include transitioning support to long-term broadband infrastructure development.

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, issued the following statement:

"The current systems of intercarrier compensation and universal service subsidies are inefficient and tied to yesterday's technology. Reform is inevitable, but it must be done properly. We need bold FCC action to cut through the self-interested rhetoric of industry proposals from both sides to find the right solution for consumers.

"Consumers are not responsible for the creation of this mess, and they deserve to be treated fairly in its resolution. The FCC must ensure that consumers will ultimately see the long-term benefits of universal, affordable broadband. Creating fair, reasonable and rational standards for these programs will help the industry move into new technologies and deliver American consumers the infrastructure they need for economic growth and social opportunity."

Read Free Press' filing:
www.freepress.net/files/FP_ICC_USF_Plan_ExParte.pdf

###

Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good