Thursday, November 17, 2011

FCC Issues its "Connect America" Order Reforming USF

The Federal Communications Commission officially released its Connect America Fund order for reforming the outdated universal service and intercarrier compensations systems with the goal of expanding access to high-speed Internet and voice services nationwide.

The CAF—with an annual budget set at no more than $4.5 billion, the same as the current universal service funding level—is expected to help connect 7 million Americans to high-speed Internet and voice in rural America over the next six years. The FCC estimates this effort will generate approximately 500,000 jobs and $50 billion in economic growth over this period.

The Order also phases down antiquated, opaque, regulated charges for the exchange of voice traffic among carriers—known as intercarrier compensation—and transitions to a simplified, uniform “bill-and-keep�? framework, which removes hidden subsidies on consumers' bills, increases efficiency, and eliminates impediments to the deployment of modern networks. Intercarrier compensation reform will provide benefits to all Americans through improved service and lower costs.