A sustainable universal service program is critical to accelerating broadband deployment to consumers and to small and large businesses in high cost areas across the nation.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 created a universal service program whose mission is to extend communications services to rural, insular, high-cost and low-income areas, and certain social institutions such as libraries, schools and rural health care providers.
The universal service program originally was designed to provide telephone service. Starting in 2010, the Federal Communications Commission began updating the program to cover broadband service through a series of rulemaking changes. These changes were applied to price cap carriers in 2011 and rate-of-return carriers in 2016.
What We Think
The universal service program should be fiscally responsible and include support from a broad base of contributors.