Possible Game Changer in Broadband Strategy Development

It seems Universal Service Fund (USF) reform is THE news item of the day since yesterday telecos wireless ISPs and others filed comments with the FCC regarding the agency’s efforts in this initiative. The Feds want to expand the USF, which now mainly addresses telephone service in rural areas, to make a few additional billion dollars available for broadband.  

I put my comments on record with the general public a few weeks ago, but now’s a good time to bring these back around. Someone has to be the voice of the community and small telcos in the midst of all the big incumbents jockeying to  get FCC rules that favor their profits and adds more barriers to competition. 

Universal Service Fund Reform could be a game changer

The High Cost Fund is the specific USF program that would support the broadband funding. Currently it provides vital telephone services (and occasionally some broadband projects are funded) for which many are thankful. But there probably isn’t much resulting from this you’d call innovative. This can change if creative people are willing to influence the hearts and minds of those writing and eventually voting on the reform bill, as well as inspire the business thinking of rural telecom companies that are intended fund recipients.

Congress should change the High Cost Fund into a Digital Communication Enhancement Fund. Just nuke once and for all this concept that there are separate worlds of voice communication and data communication. It’s a digital world now, folks! Voice can be reduced to 0’s and 1’s similar to everything else we use to communicate information. Our legislation and rules for grants need to reflect and reinforce this reality.

[Read the rest of my FierceBroadband column here

Luckily. there are additional voices speaking up for communities in this FCC discussion, including these folks – http://www.benton.org/node/30365.

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