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Public Knowledge Skeptical of FCC’s Universal Service Plan

October 27, 2011 ,

 The following statement is attributed to Gigi
B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

 “We appreciate the effort and
commitment the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dedicated to tackling
the universal service system, which is in need of serious reform.  We also appreciate that the Commission recognizes the importance of non-traditional broadband
providers, such as community-based institutions, and will seek comment on how
to enhance the ability of these entities to serve their local communities.

“At the same time, however, we
share the concerns of other consumer organizations that the Commission’s
actions will lead to higher prices at a time when the average American is
watching every penny. We hope that the mechanisms adopted by the Commission to
prevent this prove adequate, and that this and future Commissions will have the
political will to address problems that may arise.

“We are deeply disappointed that the
Commission has once again evaded the central problem which threatens to bring
down the entire plan — that of resolving the Commission’s authority over
interconnected Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and broadband services
generally.  The Commission
requested comments on the authority issue, but declined to deal with it.  VoIP services are becoming an integral
part of the telecommunications network, serving millions of consumers.

“By declining to address this issue,
the Commission is condemning the industry to more years of uncertainty,
consumers and others will be powerless to complain about industry practices and
the future of the network is left in limbo.”