A new analysis and report from Mattey Consulting recommends adding broadband internet access revenues to the USF contributions base. The study, supported by NTCA, INCOMPASS and the SHLB Coalition and entitled USForward, offers several reasons why this change will stabilize the Universal Service Fund.
Absent this action, the study correctly asserts, the fund will fall below 4%, and remain at that unworkable level for the next several years. Inclusion of broadband revenues, which are expected to stabilize or grow modestly in the future, is a solution that can be implemented more quickly and easily than alternative solutions.
Further, the paper suggests, the inclusion of both voice and broadband revenue removes incentives for providers to arbitrarily allocate revenues from bundled services to one service and not the other.
We believe that this is the most equitable solution to a problem that is coming upon our industry very quickly. It places some of the responsibility for maintaining universal service at reasonable rates, on the more lightly regulated broadband providers that have the freedom to choose their customers.
Conversely, it shares the USF burden, which is now squarely on the local exchange carriers who must provide service to all in their franchised areas, on a more even-handed basis.
We are hopeful that the FCC will give serious consideration to this study.