In a proposal designed to increase broadband in rural and high-cost areas, the $7 billion Universal Service Fund would be split into three new pools with $300 million annually dedicated to high-speed networks. The other two pools would be used for wireless services and traditional telephone service. The proposal by the Federal-State Joint Board, which oversees the fund financed by surcharges on consumer telephone bills, would replace the current USF funding structure that primarily focuses on telephone service and Internet connections for schools and libraries. The Federal Communications Commission has one year to approve to the plan. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who recommended five years ago that the USF be used for broadband deployment, praised the board’s decision but slammed the proposed funding levels. “I am enormously pleased to approve of this historic finding by the Joint Board because it establishes for the first time the right mission for Universal Service in the 21st Century,” Commissioner Copps said. “I must express disappointment, however, that once the initial decision to include broadband was made, councils of caution found their way to the fore.”  Commissioner Copps noted the funding does not include any new money, but a “mere reshuffling of dollars among different pots. That’s like fighting a bear with a fly swatter.”

[SOURCE: eWeek.com, AUTHOR: Roy Mark]

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