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Recently, the Federal Communications Commission circulated a proposal to consider implementing a cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF), the federal government’s primary tool to help close the digital divide by funding broadband access and deployment in rural communities, affordable broadband for low-income families, and affordable connectivity for schools and libraries. Public Knowledge opposes capping the USF because it may hinder the FCC’s ability to fulfill its universal service mandate.
The following can be attributed to Alisa Valentin, Communications Justice Fellow at Public Knowledge:
“The reported proposal to cap USF funding directly contradicts Chairman Pai’s oft-repeated mantra that his primary focus is to close the digital divide. Congress has long directed the Commission to ensure that every American has access to essential communications services, and this proposal directly contradicts Congress’ intent.
“This proposal may impede the FCC from making broadband affordable and accessible for all Americans, and those impacts will be felt most directly by our country’s most vulnerable communities, jeopardizing families who most need assistance connecting, students and low-income individuals who rely on internet access at schools and libraries, and families living in the most rural parts of the U.S.
“The Commission is obligated to ensure that digitally redlined communities, tribal communities, rural communities, and low-income consumers have the resources necessary for equitable access to education, telehealth services, and economic opportunities. The proposal to cap the USF program is just another signal that the Commission’s current leadership has chosen to severely weaken the FCC’s long standing universal service mission.”