According to the Internet Innovation Alliance, a new plan that will encourage additional private sector investment in broadband by targeting funding to areas of rural America, which is neglected under the current regulatory system, is a major step forward. The plan, called America's Broadband Connectivity Proposal, was unveiled recently by major national and rural telecom companies.
Honorary IIA Chairman Rick Boucher, a former Congressman from Virginia and Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, says the proposal to reform the Universal Service Fund is a positive step forward for rural Americans.
"For decades the primary purpose of the Universal Service Fund has been to fund voice telephone service through the equivalent of a tax on interstate telephone calls," Boucher said. "Now with modernization of the Universal Service Fund, broadband lines can be built with USF money bringing high-speed internet services to underserved rural areas, and directly addressing the nation's foremost telecommunications challenge: the need for universal broadband deployment."
As a next step, the Federal Communications Commission will likely review and evaluate the proposal and move forward on an adoption process and a vote. The America's Broadband Connectivity Proposal would create and fund a program focused on extending broadband to un-served areas, including millions of rural households, within five years. The program also would focus on maintaining broadband service in existing high-cost areas.
"The telephone companies that receive Universal Service Fund money serve the very areas where there is the greatest lack of broadband deployment," Boucher said. "By reforming the Universal Service Fund to support the provision of high-speed internet service by these carriers, the FCC will take a major step toward achieving our national broadband development goals."
For more information on the potential impacts of wireless broadband access in rural America, visit www.internetinnovation.org.