Proposals to reform the Universal Service Fund High-Cost Program have been circulating at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for years. Last week, the FCC launched a proceeding to escalate high-cost reform as part of the implementation of the recently released National Broadband Plan. (Our summary of the universal service terms of the Plan is available here.)
This new proceeding, in the form of a Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOI/NPRM) seeks comment on ways to use High-Cost Program funds to expand broadband services and shift funding away from services and areas no longer in need of support. It also seeks comment on ways to limit the growth of the funds, as well as ways to improve broadband deployment.
Although the NOI/NPRM does not make proposals for the creation of the new Connect America Fund (CAF), which is one of the centerpiece proposals of the Broadband Plan, it does offer some insight into the FCC’s thinking of what that future fund should look like.