FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Responds to Lawmakers' Concerns About the Future of the Universal Service Fund

On September 8, 2022, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel penned responses to two groups of lawmakers who had written to Rosenworcel about the future of the Universal Service Fund. In her responses, the chairwoman highlighted the FCC's Report on the Future of the Universal Service Fund adopted on August 12, 2022. The Report includes discussion of the costs of data transportation and their impact on rural providers, according to Rosenworcel. "It recommends that the FCC initiate a proceeding to consider the future support needs of networks serving high-cost areas, and in doing so assess what continuing support is needed to develop, maintain and improve broadband operations in those locations," she said. "In addition, the Report includes discussion of middle-mile development in high-cost areas," she continued, and recommends that the FCC “engage with NTIA on this program, and then study its results and its implications on for High Cost and the other universal service programs.” Rosenoworcel also states that the Report includes discussion of whether the Universal Service Fund contribution base should be broadened to include “edge providers,” such as streaming video providers or major digital advertisers, which are by many accounts responsible for a significant volume of traffic on networks serving high-cost areas."

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