Bill Requires FCC to Consider USF Contributions from New Sources

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A bill introduced by Republican Senators Shelley Moore-Caputo, WV, Roger Wicker, MS, and Todd Young, IN, would order the FCC to conduct a feasibility study of collecting USF payments from internet edge providers.

These are companies such as Google, Netflix and YouTube that – according to the proposed FAIR Contribution Act — provide “online content or services, such as a search engine, a social media platform, a streaming service, an app store, a cloud computing service, or an e-commerce platform.”

The bill further requires the FCC to consider sources of Big Tech revenue, the fairness of the current USF program, and a system which could assess contributions on Big Tech firms.

Commissioner Carr, in a favorable statement, said, “Requiring Big Tech to contribute (to USF) is more than fair…Historically, the businesses that derived the greatest benefit from a communications network paid the lion’s share of the costs. I am pleased…to open a proceeding to look at ending the charge on consumers’ monthly telephone bills and shifting a fair amount over to Big Tech.”

This also seems very fair to us. RLECs and similar local service providers are required by law to provide universal service at affordable rates to all customers in their franchised areas. Big Tech companies have no such requirements, instead offering their services to the customers of their choice.

This bill would require Big Tech to make a significant contribution to the preservation of universal service to all Americans.