FCC talking about spending caps on Universal Service Funds?!

Apparently FCC Chair Pai is talking about spending caps on Universal Service Funds.

Here is Benton Foundation’s response

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:

  • Quality services are available at just, reasonable, and affordable rates.

  • Access to advanced telecommunications and information services are provided in all regions of the Nation.

  • Consumers in all regions of the Nation, including low-income consumers and those in rural, insular, and high cost areas, have access to telecommunications and information services, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services, that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas and that are available at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates charged for similar services in urban areas.

  • There are specific, predictable, and sufficient Federal and State mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service.

  • Elementary and secondary schools and classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should have access to advanced telecommunications services.

And according to Politico, here’s the response from other FCC Commissioners…

FCC SUBSIDY CAP PUSHBACK — Count FCC Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) as critics of a proposal from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to explore a spending cap on telecom subsidies to expand 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,” Markey said of the FCC proposal, which would target Universal Service Fund programs.

— Rosenworcel said the item, which was circulated among commissioners Tuesday, “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 Republican Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who voted to approve it Tuesday, calling an overall spending cap “overdue and incredibly needed.”

I’ve been looking for the circulated proposal, but as often the case that doesn’t seem to be available. There’s nothing on the Universal Service Headlines. Maybe we’ll see more later – maybe readers will help me out!

This entry was posted in FCC, Funding, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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