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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  Chairman Genachoski complains that the USF is becoming outdated and needs the changes.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 mcnabney on 2/8/2011 1:47:55 PM , Rating: 1
You do understand that there is very little local variety in agriculture outside of California and Florida.

Go up to Iowa and Nebraska. Agricultural powerhouses. Nothing but miles and miles of corn and soybeans. Probably not the best diet available. The folks that live there get their produce from California, cheese from Wisconsin, and beef from Texas just like everyone else.

Food is a portable commodity.
Broadband is a service.

RE: another option
By swampthing1117 on 2/8/2011 2:07:42 PM , Rating: 4
ok i live in iowa, you have no clue of what you speak. Corn and soybeans are major crops here, yes. Now think what that corn and soy is used for, the multitude of products you wouldn't have without especially soy. You really think the rest of the country doesn't depend on that soy heavily?

We don't get beef from texas in iowa, are you nuts? Iowa corn fed beef is some of the best in the US. Pork is also a HUGE export and industry in iowa, i mean HUGE. Iowa is biggest pork producing state in the country.

Cheese from wisconsin? are you serious? Not much cheese here is from wisconsin. There's some but it's not like wisconsin is the only place that makes cheese, there's actually tons of cheese plants in iowa.

For that matter, agriculture is not even iowa's biggest industry. Manufacturing is, it's 23% of the economy here. Agriculture which includes, fishing and hunting and forestry is only 3.5% of the economy. Retail actually doubles agriculture here.

next time actually know what you speak of as you seemingly know nothing at all about iowa. All you did was list a bunch of regional stereotypes, almost none of which are true. Iowa an agricultural powerhouse?

No, not even close, more like a manufacturing powerhouse.

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