Just What The USF Needs — More Money

from the you-want-some-more?!?! dept

With the excesses and abuses of the Universal Service Fund so well documented, it’s rather surprising to find anyone who still believes in it (well, other than politicians and the companies that benefit from it, that is). Some are still out there though, and think the flawed system needs expansion. Computerworld editor Preston Gralla writes in support of a new proposal out of Congress that would add a federal tax to broadband bills for the purpose of helping to build out rural broadband. Gralla argues that the tax needs to be put in place to make up for diminishing revenue on long-distance taxes. But there are also state taxes on mobile-phone use, and as it is the USF already has way too much money. The main beneficiaries of this money aren’t the rural residents, but rather the operators that rake in an exorbitant amount to provide rural service. If the USF actually had a track of delivering on its goals, that would be one thing. Then we’d be left debating the merits of government-subsidized rural broadband, and whether people who live in rural areas have any reason to expect the same services afforded to city dwellers. Unfortunately, the USF doesn’t accomplish what it sets out to, because it’s so poorly managed, which should make anyone hesitant to throw more money at it. If politicians insist on subsidizing rural broadband, then here’s a better idea: why not force the companies that are raking in $13,000 per year per customer to spend some of that money on building out internet access? Surely they have some money left over after the cost of providing phone service.


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Comments on “Just What The USF Needs — More Money”

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8 Comments
Ben(damnit) says:

“If politicians insist on subsidizing rural broadband, then here’s a better idea: why not force the companies that are raking in $13,000 per year per customer to spend some of that money on building out internet access? Surely they have some money left over after the cost of providing phone service.”

That would be logical and fair, but then the telcos wouldn’t be able to afford their lobbyists and the mil+/yr salaries of their execs.

Ron Richmond says:

Just What The USF Needs -- More Money

You know what? It’s not so much that people don’t care anymore… but unfortunately THEY DON’T. It’s more a matter of absolute frustration. There is so much that is $%#%$#$-up in this country that people don’t know which way to go next? We have become a society of resigned apathy. Nobody is watching the cash register, and everybody is trying to figure out how to get their hands in the drawer.

telephony says:

Re: Just What The USF Needs -- More Money

What has been documented is the MINORITY of players abusing this system. The majority of players in this market are conservative operators that operate within the rules and in many cases even more conservatively than that. The RBOCs / AT&T don’t want these areas for a reason. They are high cost customers & difficult to sell value-added (high-margin) services to with less customers per mile, period! Also, wireless carriers have been taking from USF as “rural carriers” reducing the take for the traditional companies that have benefited from this fund. In most cases, wireless companies participating is bogus!

Dave says:

USF? Ask whether we need it!

I gotta ask who they think isn’t being served?

I live in Wyoming (arguably the most rural state in the lower 48!) and we generally have broadband in every community.

Besides the wide availability of cable internet services, there are several regional ISPs that are investing heavily in providing broadband throughout the state. One is my ISP. Cellular broadband is also starting to spread. I can have Verizon EVDO if I choose.

I would like to think that this tax money would end up in the hands of one of these independent ISP’s that is actually trying to expand broadband access, but I doubt it. Somehow, I think the $$$ will stay in the pockets of the big boys. Fooey on this idea!

Reality Check says:

Build out requirements

Umm, didn’t the FCC remove the “build out” requirements, recently?

So what the point of the USF, I thought that companies could use the USF funds to satisfy their build out needs. However, since the requirement is removed, how are their needs going to be defined now, stockholders? And do they still get to rape the USF fund? What about stick issue of “right of way” which I thought was the trade-off to “build out” requirements?

When you get right down to it, we’re not getting what we paid for, with regards to our broad-band, phone, cable, and USF costs.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

ADSL2+

If an ADSL2+ DSLAM (one which supported RADSL) was put in every exchange, then only those stuck on a RIM or too far from the exchanges (about 5750m with RADSL to get 1500kbps, some signal can reach as far as 6750m, seeInternode’s whebsite) will be stuck on slow internet. Don’t go on about sattelite, since one-way sattelite uses dial-up or ISDN for the uplink, while 2-way is expensive.

Cable is OK, and gives the chance of pirateing TV, but there is the problem of having to share with too many people.

unityworks says:

Require USF Recipients to Provide Broadband Upgrad

Since there is little oversight of carrier’s use of their USF funds, carriers should have to submit a broadband upgrade plan specifically for rural areas before and after receiving funding. Carrier plans should have to meet a new national goal of 10 mbps down and at least 2 mbps up by 2010. Carriers that don’t meet the goal or deadline should be subject to penalties up to and including the reimbursement of USF monies obtained.

For more information regarding high speed Internet issues and proposals check out the Speed Matters Campaign.

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