Luján, Thune Announce Public Comment Period for Universal Service Fund Working Group
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), Co-Chairs of the Universal Service Fund (USF) Working Group, announced that the public can now submit comments to the USF Working Group for a 30-day period closing Friday, August 25th, 2023. The Working Group also includes U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).
In May, U.S. Senators Luján and Thune, Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, convened a Subcommittee hearing titled “The State of Universal Service” to hear from experts and stakeholders on the necessary reforms to federal programs funded through universal service. The Co-Chairs want to hear from advocates, industry, and local communities to learn more about the current state of these programs to further inform the efforts of the USF Working Group.
“The Universal Service Fund plays an essential role in keeping our schools, hospitals, rural communities, and historically underserved populations connected. To meet the Universal Service Fund’s mandate—to provide truly universal service to every household in America—the programs and funding mechanism must be updated and improved to meet the needs of tomorrow. I look forward to hearing from experts, telecommunications providers, anchor institutions, and communities from across the country on how USF can best serve those who need it most and close the digital divide once and for all,” said Senator Luján, Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband.
“Universal service is a bipartisan principle that has long been the bedrock of our nation’s communications policies, and programs that efficiently and effectively strengthen its underlying goal have contributed to advancements in health care, education, and economic development,” said Senator Thune, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband. “Our working group is seeking feedback on the regulatory structure of the Universal Service Fund in order to help inform our decisions on how to best ensure Americans in rural parts of the country have access to communications services.”
“When we invest in broadband infrastructure, we invest in opportunities for all Americans. That is why I am excited to hear from people who share the same mission,” said Senator Klobuchar. “As co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus and as a member of Universal Service Fund Working Group, I’m fighting to help all Americans reliably access the high-speed internet they need.”
“The USF serves a critical purpose in ensuring communities in West Virginia and across the country are connected with reliable internet access. I look forward to hearing from stakeholders about potential solutions to ensuring the USF is updated, sustainable, and that future programs are feasible,” said Senator Capito.
“The Universal Service Fund helps support high-speed internet in rural and underserved areas across our country, including in Michigan,” said Senator Peters. “This effort will help us ensure this program is strong for years to come and find solutions to expand access to reliable high-speed internet in our state and across the country.”
Comments can be submitted as a single PDF file. Please ensure that this PDF file includes your organization name and contact information. This comment collection will be open for a period of 30 days and close at midnight 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, August 25, 2023.
The form to submit public comments can be found HERE.