Communication at a distance, especially the electronic transmission of signals via the telephone
On Friday, May 31, the Federal Communications Commission launched a proceeding to seek comment on establishing 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 NPRM asks a lot of questions over how to cap the programs. But a crucial one we ask: Does this NPRM actually move the U.S. closer to closing the digital divide?
The Benton Foundation unequivocally opposes any proposals from the Federal Communications Commission that would allow the FCC to shirk its responsibilities to meet its Congressionally-mandated mission. The FCC is supposed to ensure:
On March 12, 2019, I was honored to appear before the Senate Communications Subcommittee to testify on “The Impact of Broadband Investments in Rural America.” I provided my personal views, bringing the perspective of a former government official with 22 years of experience at the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, with the last decade focused on the FCC’s Connect America Fund. My five-minute opening statement follows:
[Editorial] The Benton Foundation has joined literally hundreds of organizations that are asking the Federal Communications Commission to ensure Lifeline voice and broadband service for low-income households, with minimal disruption to the people who depend on the program for a consistent connection to the world via their telephone or internet connection. We're asking that the FCC:
The Federal Communications Commission took steps to transform its Lifeline program. A Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order changes FCC rules to:
[Commentary] Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is setting a record pace for deregulating the communications industries. Believe it or not, things are about to get worse in Nov. Starting with the FCC’s open meeting on Nov 16, the agency is poised to approve or propose no fewer than four decisions that will deregulate consolidated industries, remove consumer protections, and widen the digital divide:
Mediacom has completed a fiber-optic network expansion in rural Truesdale (IA), delivering phone plans and download speeds of up to 2 Gbps with a focus on low-cost accessibility. Truesdale is the tenth community that Mediacom, the fifth largest cable operator in the US, has constructed through collaboration with the Empower Iowa Rural Broadband Grant Program. The operator has expanded its fiber network to over 1,400 locations in rural Iowa through that public-private partnership.
Anna Gomez is the newest, and fifth, Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission. This may allow the FCC to pursue a Democratic agenda to tackle various issues:
The fate of the Universal Service Fund (USF) remains uncertain, as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held an en banc (before the entire bench) hearing to debate whether the current system is illegal The USF includes four main programs aimed at addressing the digital divide – High Cost, Lifeline, E-Rate (for schools and libraries) and Rural Health Care.