Universal Service Fund Reform
With the billions of dollars that Congress and the Biden Administration are investing in broadband infrastructure deployment and affordability programs through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and other pandemic-related funding, the FCC should review and update the Universal Service Fund (USF). This is especially needed for the High-Cost program, where incumbent providers are being subsidized without sufficient oversight or review of geographic areas that are receiving, or will receive, funding from other federal and state broadband programs.
The USF has helped millions of families, community anchor institutions, and small businesses connect to voice and broadband services for several decades, but it is in crisis due to the high contribution factor, which reached 32.6% for QI 2023. The projection is that the USF contribution factor will continue to rise if the FCC does not act. It is time for the FCC to modernize the contribution system.
We continue to support the USForward Coalition and the more than 340 parties that agree that reform must be done now by expanding the USF contribution base to include broadband internet access service (BIAS) revenues. Doing so would decrease the factor to less than 4% and ensure that every consumer and business that relies on broadband is contributing to the USF. The FCC has the authority and responsibility under the current statute to complete its reform to ensure that the USF can continue to meet its mission.