Benton to FCC: Use USF to Accelerate Digital Transition

In comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission, the Benton Foundation suggests the FCC modernize the Universal Service fund to accelerate broadband deployment and adoption. The size of the universal service fund does not have to be drastically increased, Benton argues, but as soon as possible all support should be directed to broadband deployment and adoption. Merely extending universal service support to broadband, without a commensurate decrease in analog support, could indeed increase costs to consumers who can't afford to pay more. Instead, broadband support should be phased in over a limited timetable while phasing out support for analog service, spurring new competition, and enabling providers to offset the increased cost through increase subscriber services like the addition of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video to their broadband offerings. The Commission must modernize Lifeline and Link Up to help meet the communications needs of low income consumers. The Commission should expand USF to include equipment and training to make broadband access meaningful. The Broadband Lifeline/LinkUp program must be designed to reach and serve all eligible households. The Commission should streamline Broadband Lifeline/Link Up eligibility and enrollment.



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