Universal Service Fund (USF) Working Group Request for Comment
Members of the Universal Service Fund (USF) Working Group, Senators Luján, Thune, Klobuchar, Capito, Peters, and Moran invite you to submit comments to share your thoughts, concerns, ideas, and proposals regarding the future of USF. The goal of this working group is to create a bipartisan forum to guide education, awareness, and policy-making on the USF.
In May of 2023, Senators Luján & Thune convened a Subcommittee hearing titled “The State of Universal Service” to hear from expert stakeholders on the importance and necessary reforms to the programs that are funded through universal service. To further inform the efforts of the Working Group, the Co-Chairs would like to hear from advocates, industry, and local communities across America to learn more about the current state of the program, as well as its future.
The Co-Chairs invite comments on the following topics:
1) How should Congress and the Commission evaluate the effectiveness of the existing USF programs in achieving universal service goals for broadband?
2) To what extent have the existing USF programs been effective in carrying out section 254 of the Communications Act of 1994?
a) Has the Commission adequately evaluated the effectiveness of each program against concrete goals and metrics?
3) Is the FCC’s administration of the USF and its four programs sufficiently transparency and accountable? If not,what reforms are necessary and appropriate within the four existing USF programs to improve transparency, accountability, and cost-effectiveness, and does the Commission have the authority to make such reforms?
a) High-Cost Support
b) Low-Income Support
c) Schools and Libraries Support
d) Rural Health Care Support
4) What reforms are necessary to address inefficiencies and waste, fraud, and abuse in each of the four programs and duplication with other government programs?
5) What additional policies beyond existing programs are necessary for the preservation and advancement of universal service?
6) Should Congress eliminate the requirement that a provider must be an “Eligible Telecommunications Carrier” to receive USF subsidies?
7) Currently, telecommunications companies must pay a contribution factor to the Universal Service Fund proportional to interstate end-user revenues. What reforms are necessary to ensure that the contribution factor is sufficient to preserve and advance universal service?
a) Some have advocated for assessing USF contributions on broadband service and edge providers. What would the impact of suchreforms on ratepayers and the marketplace?
b) Some have advocated the funding for the USF to an appropriations model. What impact would that have the USF?
8) What actions are necessary and appropriate to improve coordination between USF programs and other programs at the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, USDA Rural Development, the Department of Treasury, and other federal agencies?
9) Is the USF administrator, USAC, sufficiently accountable and transparent? Is USAC’s role in need of reform?
10) Is Congressional guidance needed to ensure future high-cost program rollouts, such as RDOF phase II, are improved? Would a thorough and upfront vetting process be more efficient for federal dollars and recipient ISPs?
Please submit your comments as a single PDF file. Please ensure that this PDF file includes your organization name & contact information. This comment collection will be open for a period of 30 days and close on midnight 11:59pm ET on Friday, August 25th, 2023.