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FCC to Release USF Reform Proposals

Fri, 01/25/2008 - 8:43am
Teresa von Fuchs

In more FCC news, the commission is reportedly preparing to release plans to reform the Universal Services Fund, a government-subsidized fund created to offset the cost of providing telecommunications to rural communities, libraries and schools.

According to an AP report, the commission will announce three possible suggestions that could radically overhaul the USF. The first change would be reverse auctions: Companies would bid to offer services to a specific area, and the winner would be the company that bids the lowest in terms of how much assistance it would require to offer services in the area. Currently, multiple companies can receive assistance for providing service to one area.

The second proposal would alter the amount of financial support wireless companies receive. Currently, wireless companies earn the same amount as wireline service providers, though costs for the different types of infrastructure are very different.

The third proposal will earmark a portion of the fund to help pay for deploying broadband Internet networks across the country. The fund currently does not allow for spending on broadband services.

Not all members of the commission agree about each proposal, and there will most likely be backlash from members of the industry. The report also cited several other reforms circulating the commission, but none have enough support yet to be released.

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