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ROUND TABLE

… On the Universal Service Fund at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in March and changes the federal government should consider

The USF must be configured like a pyramid: it must have a broad and stable base of contributions at the bottom, and a narrow but sufficient distribution of support at the top. Issues related to the contribution base must be resolved. Since all benefit, all should contribute.
Billy Jack Gregg, West Virginias Public Service Commission director of the consumer advocate division


Wireless needs wires. Likewise with VoIP services. Those systems rely almost entirely on the infrastructure of others. Universal service support ensures that there is a state-of-the-art underlying network upon which all these other services rely. Reverse auctions will not ensure this.
David Crothers, National Telecommunications Cooperative Association government affairs committee chairman


The existing system is designed to support traditional voice-grade wireline services for which demand is shrinking and does not target funds effectively to promote development of advanced networks in the highest-cost areas. As a result, high-cost fund amounts per-line are growing in many areas, without efficiently advancing the goals of universal service.
Richard Massey, Alltel Wireless executive vice president, corporate secretary and general counsel


Unfortunately, the federal high-cost funding mechanisms intended to ensure that universal service goals are met have not adapted to the changing marketplace. In fact, these programs are often an impediment to the kind of transformation consumers and the marketplace require.
Tom Tauke, Verizon Communications Inc. executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communications


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