We’ll Still Be Talking USF in 5 Years


Authors of a new book recommending pathways for communications policy over the next five years see a continuing debate about how best to structure the troubled universal service program, according to a discussion sponsored by the Free State Foundation, which published the book. “If this were a new program, no one would go for it,” said Daniel Lyons, assistant professor at Boston College. The cost and complexity are daunting.

Lyons advocates making the universal service program a line item in the federal budget, but acknowledges it likely would be difficult to gain political support to pay the program even with reforms. Lyons’ chapter in the book, “Communications Law and Policy in the Digital Age,” calls for targeted subsidies to go directly to consumers through vouchers, similar to the food stamp program, which could be spent on a broadband service of choice.

Lyons also recommended phasing out the high-cost fund, an idea that prompted a question from Verizon Executive Vice President Tom Tauke. “Is it feasible to support backhaul without high cost support?” Tauke asked, adding that wireless networks rely upon wireline networks for the vast majority of traffic.  (See video for explanation of linkage between wireline and wireless networks.)

Tauke also observed that it is difficult for the Federal Communications Commission to implement an obsolete statute, which is the task the agency faces. Several of the authors call for phasing out the public utility-like regulatory approaches to communications and high-tech industries due to overwhelming evidence of competition and innovation in the marketplace.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <p> <span> <div> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <img> <map> <area> <hr> <br> <br /> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <table> <tr> <td> <em> <b> <u> <i> <strong> <font> <del> <ins> <sub> <sup> <quote> <blockquote> <pre> <address> <code> <cite> <embed> <object> <strike> <caption> <iframe><area><map>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this website until a moderator has approved them. This means there will be a delay between the time a comment is submitted and it appears on the post. Profanity, or topics that are not germane to the post will not be approved for posting. The name you enter here will appear next to your comment.