Three senators representing largely urban states are urging the Federal Communications Commission to address disparities in contributions between their states and others as part of the agency's overhaul of the Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes telecommunications service in rural and high-cost areas.
In a letter late last week to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Commerce Communications Subcommittee, argued that on average their states pay much more into the fund than they receive back. New Jersey had the biggest disparity of the three states, paying an average of $4.68 into the fund for every dollar they get back.
The FCC this month launched an effort to overhaul the fund to transition it to support broadband service over traditional telephone service and reform which providers are required to pay into the fund. But the senators said the current FCC proposal does not adequately account for or address disparities between states.
"Although we support the concept of universal service and recognize the importance of universal access to broadband for all Americans, the USF desperately needs to be changed to address the numerous inequities and inefficiencies in its current administration," the lawmakers wrote.
Some members of Congress, particularly in the House, have said they plan to draft their own universal service overhaul measure.