The principle of universal service is that all Americans need access to affordable communications. In the last century, universal service programs connected virtually the entire nation to telephone service. The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously last year to reform and modernize the Universal Service Fund. The goal is to bring broadband access to the more than 18 million Americans, mostly rural, who lack it.
The centerpiece of this modernization is the Connect America Fund, or CAF. The FCC also imposed long-overdue fiscal responsibility and accountability measures, limiting the universal service fees paid by consumers and business across the country.
The CAF first phase (Phase 1) is being launched by taking $300 million in savings recovered through reforms and directing it to provide an immediate boost to connect up to 400,000 homes, businesses and anchor institutions that currently lack access to high-speed Internet, says Sharon Gillett, chief, Wireline Competition Bureau with the FCC. Carriers will have 90 days to accept the Commission’s funding offer.
Under the revised method, over 500 carriers serving over 2 million lines across the country will get more funding, which they can use to expand broadband, says FCC.