FCC USF Cap Pushback

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Count Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) as critics of a proposal from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to explore a spending cap on telecommunications subsidies to expand telephone and broadband access. “Any effort that could harm classroom learning, broadband deployment, rural health opportunities, or connecting more individuals should be shelved and never considered again,” said Markey said of the FCC proposal, which would target Universal Service Fund programs. Commissioner Rosenworcel said the item, which was circulated among commissioners March 26, “flies in the face of the agency’s own rhetoric about bridging the digital divide.” The measure seeks comment on what the cap should be, including whether it should be set at $11.4 billion, the sum of all USF program budgets in 2018. (Actual disbursements from the fund were about $9.6 billion that year.) Still, the idea has strong support from FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who voted to approve it already, calling an overall spending cap “overdue and incredibly needed.”

FCC Subsidy Cap Pushback