For Immediate Release


Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x22 or (703) 517-6273

Free Press

Broadband Must Be Top Priority in USF Reform

WASHINGTON - Free Press filed a letter last night urging the Federal
Communications Commission to make universal, affordable broadband a
priority in any plans to reform the Universal Service Fund. The fund
currently subsidizes telephone networks in underserved rural areas --
but in the face of rapid technological change, this phone-based system
has become increasingly outdated.

The first set of reforms is expected to include changes to
"intercarrier compensation" -- the rates that phone companies charge
one another to place calls on their networks. These changes will likely
result in increased rates for rural customers. Free Press is calling on
the FCC to ensure that any reforms include transitioning support to
long-term broadband infrastructure development.

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, issued the following statement:

"The current systems of intercarrier compensation and universal
service subsidies are inefficient and tied to yesterday's technology.
Reform is inevitable, but it must be done properly. We need bold FCC
action to cut through the self-interested rhetoric of industry
proposals from both sides to find the right solution for consumers.

"Consumers are not responsible for the creation of this mess, and
they deserve to be treated fairly in its resolution. The FCC must
ensure that consumers will ultimately see the long-term benefits of
universal, affordable broadband. Creating fair, reasonable and rational
standards for these programs will help the industry move into new
technologies and deliver American consumers the infrastructure they
need for economic growth and social opportunity."

Read Free Press' filing:



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