House Energy and Commerce Wants Comments on the Universal Service Fund
Posted at 5:01 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2014
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has been looking to update the Communications Act and issued its latest white paper Friday on the Universal Service Fund. People seeking to comment on questions posed by the panel have until Sept. 19 to do so.
“This discussion, informed in part by responses to previous white papers, seeks comment on universal service policy for the modern communications ecosystem and the federal and state roles in maintaining and advancing universal service,” the white paper states.
The fund pays for several programs including supporting telecommunications to rural areas and subsidizing Internet service in schools and libraries. Consumers might have noticed USF fees on their phone bills – that’s because the fund is paid for through contributions from phone and interconnected Voice Over Internet Protocol providers.
The white paper seeks comment on eight questions, including: how Congress should change the principals of the USF; whether other programs that support deployment of communications services (like the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utility Service) are necessary; the USF’s funding level; and whether USF programs could be better managed through other mechanisms like state block grants or voucher programs.