Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Congressmen Propose Universal Service Reform Act of 2010

U.S. Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and Lee Terry (R-NE) introduced a bill aimed at modernizing the Universal Service Fund (USF) by reining in the size of the fund and promoting broadband deployment.

The Universal Service Reform Act of 2010 would restrict universal service support in areas where there is competition among providers of voice and broadband services. It would direct the FCC to adopt a competitive bidding process to determine which wireless carriers will receive universal service support. The measure would also direct the FCC to establish and implement performance goals for each universal service fund program and to determine the appropriate methodology for audits of universal service fund recipients.

The congressmen said their bill had the support of the American Public Communications Council, AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier Communications, the Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, OPASTCO, Qwest, USTelecom, Verizon, Vonage and the Western Telecommunications Alliance.

"The Universal Service Fund is broken. Consumers currently pay more than thirteen percent of long distance revenues into the fund and have at times this year contributed over fifteen percent. Our legislation is a comprehensive and forward-looking measure, which will control the spiraling growth of the Universal Service Fund while ensuring that sufficient universal service support is available on a technology-neutral basis to the carriers which rely on it to provide service. The measure will expand who pays into the Fund, control the growth of the Fund and modernize the Fund by allowing its use for the deployment of high-speed broadband service," said Boucher and Terry.

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