5G Fund for Rural America

How Do We Pay For Universal Service?

As the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act awaits a vote in the House of Representatives later this month, a debate over the future of the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund (USF) is already starting. Provisions in the infrastructure bill call for the FCC to quickly complete an evaluation of how the legislation will impact how the FCC's achieves the goal of deploying broadband to all Americans. Congress wants to know how the FCC can be more effective in achieving this goal. One brewing USF issue is how we pay for it.

USForward: FCC Must Reform USF Contributions Now - An Analysis of the Options

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF or Fund) has been one of the nation’s most important tools for connecting our nation, including rural communities, low-income families, schools, libraries, and rural health care facilities. However, the funding mechanism that supports the Fund is under significant duress. The “contribution base” – the revenues used to calculate USF contributions – has declined 63% in the last two decades, from $79.9 billion in 2001 to $29.6 billion in 2021.

RWA Seeks Reform of the Universal Service Fund

The Rural Wireless Association noted that the Universal Service Fund is unsustainable as currently constructed. When the 1996 Telecommunications Act was signed into law, voice telecommunications ruled the day and was the primary service supported by the USF. Circumstances have since changed. An explosion of innovation pushed consumers to use more data and demand higher speeds and lower latency.

Lawmakers Introduce the Preventing Disruptions to Universal Services Funds Act

Reps Jahana Hayes (D-CT), and Marc Veasey (D-TX) introduced the Preventing Disruptions to Universal Services Funds Act (H.R.5400) to extend access to federal funds for telecommunications programs for three years, eliminating the need for a yearly fund recertification. The bill was created to ensure internet access for millions across the country is not disrupted by federal funding costs allowing for continuous access to available resources.

Do We Still Need the Universal Service Fund?

There is currently a policy debate circulating asking who should pay to fund the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund. For decades the USF has collected fees from telephone carriers providing landline and cellular phones – and these fees have been passed on to consumers. As landline telephone usage has continued to fall, the fees charged to customers have increased. To fix this, there have been calls to spread fees more widely.

Why isn't 5G getting more broadband funding?

Between the American Rescue Plan Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), billions of federal dollars are pouring in to fuel broadband deployments. But all of these funding sources have one thing in common: they all focus heavily on fixed and fixed wireless deployments.

Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel's Response to Sen Wicker Regarding the Funding Capabilities of the Universal Service Program

On March 2, 2021, Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) asked Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel for a detailed status of funds report for all Universal Service Fund (USF) accounts, including but not limited to the Connect America Fund (CAF), Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers, E-Rate - Schools & Libraries Program, and the Rural Health Care Program.

Momentum Grows to Shore Up FCC Subsidy Programs, But Deal Elusive

Pressure is rising on the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to rethink the $8 billion Universal Service Fund that subsidizes phone and broadband service, as it teeters on a shrinking budget base. Big phone companies like AT&T, entities that benefit from USF programs, and public interest groups see the Biden administration as a new opportunity to press their case for an overhaul of the funding mechanism.

2020 Universal Service Monitoring Report

This is the twenty-third report in a series prepared by federal and state staff members for the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service. The findings are reported in seven sections: Section 1 of the report provides an update on industry revenues, universal service program funding requirements, and contribution factors. Sections 2 through 5 provide the latest data on the low-income, highcost, schools and libraries, and rural health care support mechanisms.

Coalition Seeks Tweaks to 5G 'Rural' Fund

The 5G Fund Supporters -- which includes the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, Rainbow-PUSH and the NAACP -- asked the Federal Communications Commission to clarify how it plans to ensure that 1) the upcoming 5G mobile broadband subsidy program will accommodate needy areas other than rural, and better ensure 2) that diverse contractors have a chance at the money.