For over two decades, the Universal Service Fund (USF) has helped, schools, libraries, rural hospitals, rural communities, and millions of families obtain connectivity. However, the USF is under significant duress and at risk. Although the USF has been modernized to support the availability and affordability of broadband networks and services, the mechanism that funds the USF has not. Assessable telecom revenues that fund the USF have continued to decline, which has led the contribution factor on these services to continue to rise to about 30%–an unreasonable fee by any measure. Telecom revenues continue to decline, while broadband revenues continue to rise. The factor is set to reach 40% by 2025 if no action is taken. That is dangerously unsustainable for the nation’s most critical connectivity program.
USForward is a coalition made up of over 340 organizations that represent a broad and diverse group of stakeholders, including public interest groups, communications companies, anchor institutions, and consumers that are collectively urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take immediate action to reform and stabilize the funding mechanism that supports the USF.
USForward supports the USForward Report, which was written by USF expert and former FCC official Carol Mattey. The Report recommends that the FCC expand the services that pay into the USF to include broadband internet access services (BIAS) revenues. Including BIAS revenues is a natural evolution of the program and an action the FCC could take immediately to lower the USF contribution factor to less than 4% and ensure that every consumer and business that relies on broadband is contributing to the USF, which is reflected in our Call to Action. Any further delay for reform risks destabilizing the USF and its ability to address the nation’s ongoing broadband connectivity needs. The FCC has the authority and responsibility under the current statute to complete contribution reform to ensure that the USF can continue to meet its mission.