Friday, May 31, 2019
Benton Foundation Opposes Proposal to Cap Fund to Close Digital Divide
On May 31, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes imposing an overall cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF). USF programs provide subsidies that make telecommunications and broadband services more available and affordable for millions of Americans. The following may be attributed to Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss:
The FCC once again proves that Friday is "take out the trash day" in our national capital; its latest proposal is pure garbage. The questions we must ask are:
- By capping the Universal Service Fund, how will the Commission make quality services available at just, reasonable, and affordable rates -- especially in hard to serve rural areas?
- By capping the Universal Service Fund, how will the Commission ensure advanced telecommunications and information services are provided in all regions of the Nation?
- By capping the Universal Service Fund, how will the Commission help consumers in all regions of the Nation, including low-income consumers and those in rural, insular, and high cost areas, have access to telecommunications and information services, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services, that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas and that are available at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates charged for similar services in urban areas?
- By capping the Universal Service Fund, how will the Commission protect specific, predictable, and sufficient Federal mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service?
- By capping the Universal Service Fund, how will the Commission guarantee elementary and secondary schools and classrooms, health care providers, and libraries have access to advanced telecommunications services?
There was a federal holiday this week, but the FCC never gets a day off from Congressional mandates -- not even on Fridays. Let's throw this NPRM in the wastebasket where it belongs.
Benton, a non-profit, operating foundation, believes that communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities to bridge our divides. Our goal is to bring open, affordable, high-capacity broadband to all people in the U.S. to ensure a thriving democracy.
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