Print 30 comment(s) - last by Lerianis.. on Dec 5 at 11:30 AM

Universal Service fund pays for rural telephone service today

One of the best ways to get broadband service into the homes in rural areas is by using wireless airwaves. The problem for wireless broadband providers is that the airwaves used for wireless services don’t travel as far and are not as strong as those used by TV broadcasters.

The FCC is looking at many different methods of getting wireless broadband into the homes of rural Americans. One of the methods being considered is taking some of the airwaves currently allocated to TV broadcasters and giving them to wireless broadband providers. The term give is too strong, the airwaves are worth billions of dollars, and auctions would be held to sell the airwaves if they were taken from broadcasters and used for wireless broadband services.

The FCC is also looking at reallocating  the federal phone-subsidy program to allow some of the funds in the program to be used to support wireless broadband services in rural areas according to the Wall Street Journal. The fund in question is the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is a federal program funded by consumers though a charge on each phone bill. The funds are currently used to subsidize phone service in rural areas and to provide service to low income homes. Plans to revamp the USF in the past have been met with staunch resistance by broadcasters and their supporters in Washington.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said, "USF is a multibillion dollar annual fund that continues to support yesterday's communications infrastructure. We need to reorient the fund to support broadband communications." The FCC is already working to identify airwaves that could be reclaimed from broadcasters.

If the FCC moved forward with the plan to take airwaves back from broadcasters, estimates peg the cost of buying the airwaves back at $12 billion. The estimated value of the airwaves when auctioned off to wireless providers is estimated to be $64 billion.

Genachowski said, "Much of what we see suggests that mobile broadband can be the pre-eminent platform for innovation in the next decade. To be the global leader in innovation 10 years from now, we need to lead the world in wireless broadband. We will need to find ways to free up new spectrum to mobile broadband. This will require examining old allocation decisions."

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RE: Why not re-allocate all of the funds?
By CosmoJoe on 12/2/2009 1:06:47 PM , Rating: 1
Great, so where does it end? Internet is a right? Wouldn't that make computers a right too, because after all what good is it if the Gov't gives you subsidized Internet but you have no way of using the service? And how about electricity? Don't we need cars to get to work? Can someone have a job without transportation if they don't live near a bus route?

Are we seriously in that much of a race to become a nanny state?

By freezervv on 12/2/2009 1:47:43 PM , Rating: 3
You forgot to mention Hitler.

By danrien on 12/2/2009 2:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
I think you misunderstood what he meant. Internet access is a right, just as access to broadcast television or phone service is a right. Not only is it a right, but it is quickly becoming the fastest way for emergency information to be relayed, and so is useful for local governments' to inform citizens of weather and the like. The fact that the digital TV transition opened up a bunch of this spectrum merely helps the argument that the said spectrum should be used for this instead of something else (what that could possibly be is beyond me).

Also, faster internet to rural households could help internet businesses substantially - rural customers are a perfect target for them, since those people often have to drive an hour or two to get things they want anyways, and you could suppose they would be more likely to order over the internet if it was more convenient for them.

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