Should USF Be Used For Rural Broadband?

Policy-makers want to split the Universal Service Fund, which brings in around $7 billion or so every year and is used to subsidize the old-fashioned phone systems in rural areas, into three distinct parts: one to subsidize wireless services, another for the old-fashioned phone services, and a slice to subsidize the broadband buildout in rural areas.

The Joint Board recommended capping the total amount of money the three funds could distribute to companies at $4.5 billion a year, about as much as it expects to use for subsidies this year. The rest of the $7 billion would be spent on programs that ensure high-speed Internet connections for schools and libraries.

It is not such a bad idea, and other countries, India for instance, have put similar policies in place, but I am with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps on this one. We need more money set aside for broadband, or in fact scrap the USF as we know it and set up a more broadband-focused rural fund.

“That’s like fighting a bear with a fly swatter,” Copps said in a statement. “Bringing broadband to the far corners of the nation is the central infrastructure challenge our country confronts right now.”

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings


Comments have been disabled for this post