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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski  (Source: LA Times)
Funding redirection could bring high-speed access to new areas of the country

The Universal Services Fund (USF) was an initiative put in place by former U.S. President Bill Clinton's Federal Communication Commission in 1997.  The USF takes a large cut out of consumer phone bills -- approximately 15 percent out of a long-distance bill, for example -- and redirects that money to funding landline telephone service to low-income rural areas, and providing broadband at public institutions.

Over time the usefulness of landline phones has faded, but the FCC continues to pour money into that aspect of the effort.  In his bid to beef up our nation's broadband, U.S. President Barack Obama's appointed FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, is looking to scrap that funding and redirect it to promoting broadband in rural areas.

He proposed the change during a speech [PDF] at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.  He stated:

In the 21st century, high-speed Internet, not telephone, is our essential communications platform, and Americans are using wired and wireless networks to access it. But while the world has changed around it, USF -- in too many ways -- has stood still, and even moved backwards.

Currently the landline fund eats up $4.3B USD a year, while the broadband fund only gets a chunk of the remaining money.  Chairman Genachowski suggests a gradual fadeout of the telephone funding, transitioning that money to a new broadband deployment and support fund designed to push broadband into rural areas.

The new fund, formally titled the Connect America Fund, would aim to cover 24 million Americans with broadband.  Chairman Genachoski complains that the USF is becoming outdated and needs the changes.  He states, "The fund pays almost $2,000 per month -- more than $20,000 a year -- for some households to have phone service. And in many places, the existing system funds four or more phone companies to serve the same area."

The speech came with the filing of a "Notice For Proposed Rule-Making" (NFPRM).  This is the FCC's way of giving the public chance to comment.

Wireless service providers like Verizon and rural broadband providers have expressed enthusiasm about the shift.  Thus far rural landline operators have kept quiet, but they're unlikely to appreciate the measure.



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RE: another option
By kattanna on 2/8/2011 1:08:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
everyone in a rural area can *not* get satellite. Satellite is expensive, slow, and requires property owner consent to install a big dish on top of your house. Renters, historic housing, and low income markets all are not ideal.


nice set of excuses there. i see lots of apartments and homes for rent with sat dishes now. also any usable wireless setups now require some sort of antennae to work, so you stil have that issue.

historic housing? thats a world of pain you should have known full well ahead of time that you cant make any changes what so ever, regardless of internet needs.

low income? if they are soo poor that they are having to live in a rural setting and cannot afford monthly internet, then they most likely cannot afford the computers to use it either. and will have instead already been using their phones for such things, IF cell service is even available in their rural area.

quote:
That means unless you live in a fairly populated area you will NEVER get service.


and do tell me why i should be forced to pay for some ISP to run a cable many miles at massive cost to provide you with internet because you dont want to move to where it is?

how about you pay for it yourself? just like if you moved to somewhere they isnt a power line already, the power company would make you pay for the line extension. but you want ME to pay for your cable company to run a line to your house?

whats next, I have to pay walmarts costs to put a super center store where its convenient for you to shop at?

quote:
internet providers only deploy and upgrade in the most profitable of markets


those bastards! how dare a business run with the idea of making a profit for itself and its shareholders

listen.. i have lived for years numerous times in barely to very rural areas. living outside of major city areas has its bonuses and negatives. quit trying to get others to pay the costs to remove the negatives out of your life and do it yourself.


RE: another option
By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 1:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair there are plenty of places you cannot get satellite. If you live on the wrong side of an apartment complex, you can't get signal from a dish mounted off your porch or out a window necessarily. And few places will let you put a dish out in the lawn area in front of your apartment to clear the trees. Granted most apartment complexes also offer cable services too. So while maybe you are locked into one particular service, you had the choice on whether to live there in the first place.


RE: another option
By tastyratz on 2/8/2011 2:24:32 PM , Rating: 1
And what about paving roads in rural areas? Should those perhaps stop receiving states subsidies? How dare they connect larger cities! Its only convenience, they clearly have the option to walk!

Holds Just as much water. We are not putting the "every American's right to porn" act in the forefront, it's basic commercialization and communication rights in the 21st century.
Just as you pay taxes to help keep roads other than the ones you drive on paved, you put a 15% portion of (what may have gotten you that phone line in the first place) your phone bill towards infrastructure development. Hell, this isn't even an income tax! It is a tax that you elect to pay with your so called "luxury". If you so despise to pay it, perhaps you should choose to boycott by canceling your internet?

The time for rural connectivity now is fairly critical if we want to keep our jobs in the usa... we have to be able to market them to the residents.

Also as to the basis of your entire argument about "me" trying to get you to pay for "my" internet... if you read my statement you would realize I explicitly stated I am not impacted by this. That is right - I am a city boy but I support developing our country. I might even like those rural areas to have other luxuries like public education and emergency services!


RE: another option
By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 2:41:35 PM , Rating: 1
Most roads through rural areas are spawned off the interstate system. The interstates were formed as part of the national defense during World War 2.

If a state wants to subsidize roads in a rural area, that's the states choice. The federal government doesn't have that power. Or it shouldn't. The same should be for telephones, broadband, etc. States have any power not explicitly given to the federal government. The federal government only has the powers granted to it by the constitution.

Regardless of what liberal Democrats want people to believe, a lack of commerce does not fall under the commerce clause. The commerce clause was put in the constitution to prevent states for setting up barriers that would prevent commerce between the states. Not to give the federal government the power to regulate all commerce.


RE: another option
By smackababy on 2/8/2011 3:19:04 PM , Rating: 2
Sadly, cities cannot subsidize internet for its citizens. A city tired this and was sued by the cable companies because they were granted a monopoly for that area.


RE: another option
By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 6:21:45 PM , Rating: 1
Another issue caused by the federal government.


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