FCC Chairman Ready to Overhaul Bloated USF?

Julius Genachowski’s FCC will tackle what his predecessors, too, have tried to fix – the bloated Universal Service Fund (USF).

At a conference in Washington, D.C. this week, the FCC chairman said he wants to overhaul the USF to support broadband communications, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“USF is a multibillion dollar annual fund that continues to support yesterday’s communications infrastructure,” Genachowski said on Tuesday, reported by the Journal. To that point, the fund subsidizes phone service in rural markets, low-income households and goes toward some networks in schools and libraries.

Genachowski and several of his commissioners want to make sure USF also covers broadband rollouts in rural areas, the Journal said. The FCC chairman undoubtedly will meet with resistance – rural phone companies don’t want to see their support dwindle and they have impressive Congressional lobbying power.

Genachowski also appears open to allocating more airwaves from TV broadcasters to wireless service providers as mobile Internet becomes the norm.

“We will need to find ways to free up new spectrum to mobile broadband,” Genachowski said, according to the Journal. “This will require examining old allocation decisions.”

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