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Court Approves FCC Plan to Use USF Funds for Rural Broadband
by Karl Bode 08:10AM Tuesday May 27 2014 Tipped by WHT See Profile
A Federal Appeals court last Friday upheld the FCC's plan to expand the Universal Service Fund for use in rural broadband expansion. Historically the USF has been used to connect phone service to more rural neighborhoods, though the FCC voted to reform the program back in 2011 to help improve rural broadband coverage. That reform was challenged by smaller carriers that stood to lose subsides they'd long received. The FCC's USF and E-Rate programs have long been criticized by the GAO as poorly managed slush funds that could have used more serious reform before being expanded.

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pandora
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Outland
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Do we really need ubiquitous wired communication?

Maybe we don't need ubiquitous wired communication. IMO fees and taxes for phone service have become obsolete with growth in internet. VOIP uses virtually no bandwidth and is available to most in the U.S. now. The USF and all phone fees and taxes should be abolished.

Where appropriate the government may want to use general tax revenue to provide wired network infrastructure, elsewhere wireless will likely work well.
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Congress could mess up a one piece jigsaw puzzle.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

4 recommendations

Re: Do we really need ubiquitous wired communication?

well we don't need 3g/4g/lte at $50 for 5GB with $10 for each 1gb over that.
pandora
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Re: Do we really need ubiquitous wired communication?

No we don't. However not all wireless needs to come from telephone companies or cell towers. Communities and rural counties can be served by other means.

IMO the FCC should ban use limits for all communications. A pipe sold to a customer should be used as the customer sees fit.
--
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davidhoffman
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Warner Robins, GA
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Wired service will typically be less expensive, in the long run, per GB of data transferred.

Zenit

join:2012-05-07
Purcellville, VA
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1 recommendation

Yes, we do. Wireless is just not a replacement. Yes, it keeps getting better but it will always be more sensitive to environmental factors. Besides, I have never heard of or seen a wireless carrier, from WISP size to Megacarrier offer unlimited, or reasonable caps at normal competitive prices.

If you like paying $10 per GB overage, Wireless is for you!

The whole point I have is this - we wired the entire USA for POTS back under the Ma Bell/GTE Regime where Universal Service was the policy. This cost unspeakable amounts of money, even back then, but Ma Bell was very rich!

Today, we need to replace this dated infrastructure. The spending (investment) required to build out FTTP would create more jobs, spur more R&D in telecom equipment, and prepare the country for the highly connected future. European and Asian countries are surpassing us on telecom infrastructure...this is not good.

The government is too short sighted/inept/corrupt to realize this.
pandora
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Re: Do we really need ubiquitous wired communication?

said by Zenit:

If you like paying $10 per GB overage, Wireless is for you!

The whole point I have is this - we wired the entire USA for POTS back under the Ma Bell/GTE Regime where Universal Service was the policy. This cost unspeakable amounts of money, even back then, but Ma Bell was very rich!

I don't know if we have ubiquitous wired landline service, and without ever building it out entirely, our ILEC's want to shut it down in favor of VOIP.

Second, the USF is a boondoggle that greatly inflates the cost of phone service.

All phone fees should be eliminated.

Finally, the technology of a WISP is well understood. If the private sector won't, then let state or federal government implement WISP services for those who can't easily get wired service.

At some point, people who live many miles from anywhere, must make a decision to be away from service. We can't spend a million dollars to connect every would be hermit to wired Internet IMO.
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Zenit

join:2012-05-07
Purcellville, VA
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Re: Do we really need ubiquitous wired communication?

I agree with you, those that are in extremely remote locations (less than 1 home per mile, where even traditional POTS does not exist) should be left to their own devices...

However, the telecoms are abandoning small towns, villages...places that were profitable to offer telephone in the not-distant past.

And its not the smaller carriers that are the problem so much as the large ones like VZ or AT&T that have a wireless cash cow. They don't need to provide landline internet service, they can just take these peoples wallets instead with capped, non-consistent wireless.

Back to WISP..yes its well understood. Its quite common where I live as the west side of the county is undeserved by both Comcast and VZ - Comcast built only in and around large towns, VZ put DSL in only the largest town and abandoned the rest of its footprint in the west (east has FIOS). The county has been trying for 7 years now to get VZ to built out FIOS as they promised to in their franchise agreement, with no luck.

So, we have 3 WISPs. All of them are terrible to some degree. Low caps, slow speeds, high prices. The cell carriers offer better service now. Only advantage is one of the WISPs has no caps past midnight, but they are oversold and don't have as complete coverage as the others.

What it comes down to is this...the telcos have been very lazy, they misused funds, and they are entirely focused on delivering their excess money (money that should be used in construction) directly to the shareholders and executives instead. Its hurting them in the long run...Cable TV MSOs will have the last laugh.
pandora
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Re: Do we really need ubiquitous wired communication?

said by Zenit:

What it comes down to is this...the telcos have been very lazy, they misused funds, and they are entirely focused on delivering their excess money (money that should be used in construction) directly to the shareholders and executives instead. Its hurting them in the long run...Cable TV MSOs will have the last laugh.

We agree more than we disagree. Where we disagree is taxation of services. If throwing money at the connectivity problem would solve it, all problems would be solved.

Instead money is constantly diverted to various corrupt purposes, which do not further true additional infrastructure. Companies which have taken many billions to connect, turn their backs on less profitable users whenever possible.

There seems no solution. When this administration was elected, I voted for it, hoping the FCC and Congress would fix some of the gridlock. Unfortunately things seem as bad as ever, if not worse, as there is likely no hope of ever getting control over large companies in the near future.

Good luck, and hope you get a decent WISP soon.
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Zenit

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Purcellville, VA
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Re: Do we really need ubiquitous wired communication?

Thankfully I don't need a WISP since Comcast services my address...and someday if the County Board of Supervisors cranks up the heat, there should be FIOS here too.

Right now my other choice is 3mbit ADSL2 from VZ, on lines that are slowly failing due to water ingress. :/

I think many people had high hopes for this new administration...but it just turned out more of the same, more insane adventures overseas, etc. I wonder how long things can go on like this.
decifal

join:2007-03-10
Bon Aqua, TN
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It

It won't be used truly for rural communications.. They will claim they used the money to build out to rural areas but just check mark satellite coverage as they have in the past as progress with the money.. All phone companies that have no interest in upgrading their soo called rural areas should just be asked to put em up for sale at cost being they have been deemed "unprofitable".. They are keeping some people behind. And not all of those are truly rural users, just odd areas or overlooked service points..

That being said, its done I think. If the pattern of how things work in the real world show any resemblance to what will happen.
xthepeoplesx

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So is this something that will help me out?

I currently have centurylink and while they finally fixed their problems, the speed is still abysmal on DSL. Who is this used to service? We have Timw Warner lines ran to the house but they wont provide internet over it. Is this something that will fix that?
Chubbysumo

join:2009-12-01
Superior, WI
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Re: So is this something that will help me out?

no, they likely won't even touch any network upgrades in "rural" areas, and instead funnel the money into areas where they have competition with cable providers, just like they, and everyone else, has been doing with the USF money they have gotten in the past.

plk
Premium
join:2002-04-20
united state

Re: So is this something that will help me out?

I couldn't agree more. The FCC did that map a few years back that showed rural areas that didn't have broadband. The FCC should require them to show which areas on that map will be covered with the funds. But we all know they won't.
biochemistry
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92361

3 recommendations

Wired Only

If a dime of this money goes for LTE or Satellite then they should just forget the whole thing.
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IowaCowboy
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Hate those taxes

I hate those taxes, they can easily add another $10 to a voice line.

I wish the FCC would follow the DOT and force telcos to advertise prices with all the taxes and fees included like the airlines have to.
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pende_tim
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Time To Buy Verizon Stock

If history holds steady, Verizon will get 30% of this reallocated money, do nothing and then actually sell the rural lines they were planning to sell anyway.
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Probitas

@206.248.154.x

a bit confused

I see where it looks like bribes when companies donate to politicians. I've always thought that a bit one sided, where's the kick back?

Is this where it rears it's head, this sort of thing? Wouldn't that be money laundering?
Eek2121

join:2002-10-12
Newton, NJ
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Don't give any to CenturyLink

I just found out that CenturyLink has at least 1/3rd of my entire town wired for fiber. Why don't they turn it on for residential folks? They sell to businesses and make a killing ($1000 for 20 megabits up/down. No joke, we have it at work.)

Explain that one.
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KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
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join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Expand that Telco slush fund!

The USF, Universal Slush Fund, full of fraud, lack of oversight, and wonton abuse.

I'll be looking for another increase on my bill, tyvm.
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Yes

@66.249.88.x

Re: Expand that Telco slush fund!

said by KrK:

The USF, Universal Slush Fund, full of fraud, lack of oversight, and wonton abuse.

I'll be looking for another increase on my bill, tyvm.

The USF should cease to exist. It is nothing but a payoff to politicians' backers so that special interests can afford to keep paying off the pols. And the average taxpayer picks up the tab.
sparek

join:2002-06-10
Benton, KY

Phone Service?

Put me down as confused on this as well.

I currently have a fiber optic connection with my telephone company. They require that I keep my landline phone line in order to get the fiber optic Internet connection. As I understood it, this was required so that they could continue to get subsidies from the government since that was based on how many of their customers had phone service. Another words, they couldn't provide cheap service if everyone dropped their phone line and just used the fiber optic Internet connection. Supposedly the phone company was working with some lobbyists to get this changed.

I'd like to drop the landline and go cell phone only for telephone, since I rarely use the telephone anyway.

Is this approval in some way saying that telephone companies don't have to require a telephone service to their customers to draw from government subsidies? (I'm not sure if this was the USF or not, so I'm using a more general subsidies term)