USF Audit Overblown by $771 Million?

Did telcos really get more Universal Service Fund (USF) money than they should have from 2006-2007?

One reporter argues no and says the FCC’s recent Office of Inspector General report unfairly tags telcos with collecting more subsidies than they probably did.

Rather than receiving $970 million in USF subsidies, says Telephony’s Joan Engebretson, telcos likely collected around $199 million.

“Don’t get me wrong,” writes Engebretson. “Even if telcos were only overpaid by 1 percent, it’s still too much. USF recipients need to take the FCC charges seriously and respond promptly – and they shouldn’t wait for the FCC’s final audit results. After watching the impact of lax oversight on financial markets, the U.S. public doesn’t want to hear about any company getting away with not meeting regulations – and with Universal Service at risk, Independent telcos can’t afford the bad PR.”

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