There won’t be a national broadband plan if the Universal Service Fund remains broken, says AT&T.
Monday, the FCC reported that the fund’s contribution percentage is up 36 percent from the beginning of the year. The USF helps subsidize telephone service in those unserved and underserved areas we’ve heard so much about in talks of a national broadband plan.
Most telecommunications providers are required to contribute to the fund, but since it’s based primarily on wireline service – which so many people are dropping these days – the fund is taking a big hit. This all means that “the government [is asking] for more money from a shrinking base of phone customers to support the goals of universal service,” according to a release from AT&T.
It’s been proposed that the USF is extended beyond phone service to include broadband, which would obviously broaden the base of those who contribute to the fund. Democrats in Congress have proposed this change, above and beyond the more than $7 billion allotted for it in the economic stimulus package.