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WASHINGTON -- In a speech to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined a proposal to revamp the Universal Service Fund (USF), echoing ideas discussed by the chairman last year. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on USF reform is on the agenda for the FCC’s meeting on Tuesday.

At the core of USF reform is the transformation of a program that was created to subsidize telephone lines in rural communities into a program that would fund the construction of broadband networks in communities that are currently without service.

Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:

“The millions of Americans who pay the monthly tax to support the Universal Service Fund are eager to see the FCC bring long overdue reforms to this vital subsidy program. Companies that take these public handouts must follow basic public service principles and should not be allowed to just pad their profits on the taxpayer's dime.

“We are pleased Chairman Genachowski is once again making Universal Service Fund reform a priority, and we will examine his proposal with an eye toward exactly how it advances policy beyond the National Broadband Plan and the several notices of inquiry already issued on this topic. We take the chairman at his word when he says he wants to make the Universal Service Fund less wasteful, and we hope he has the political courage to stand up to the big phone companies and turn that promise into reality."

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