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GOP regulator 'anxious' about delay for phone fund overhaul GOP regulator 'anxious' about delay for phone fund overhaul GOP regulator 'anxious' about delay for phone fund overhaul GOP regulator 'anxious' a...

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Congress

GOP regulator 'anxious' about delay for phone fund overhaul

July 21, 2011

Robert McDowell, a Republican FCC commissioner, says he is concerned the agency may fall behind on its effort to overhaul a major fund supporting phone service in rural and low-income households.

McDowell said the FCC was originally supposed to vote in August on a proposal overhaul fund, but the date keeps getting pushed back.

"I start to get anxious about this date slipping away," he said at a conference hosted by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council on Thursday.

The FCC launched an effort this year to divert the $8 billion phone fund toward broadband rather than traditional voice service and to reform the regulatory regime governing payments between telecom carriers.

McDowell said his concern that this effort might fall apart is rooted in "post-traumatic stress syndrome" from previous failed efforts to reform the fund, including a major effort three years ago.

"Let's get on with it," he said, echoing remarks he first made on C-Span last week.

McDowell suggested he doesn't see an industry-led proposal for reform, pending from a group of companies with conflicting interests, as a great beacon of hope for the reform effort.

"You can't make everyone happy, and we shouldn't try to make everyone happy. We should try to do the right thing. That is the role of an independent agency," he said.

Tom Tauke, the top policy executive at Verizon, sounded a more positive note about the industry proposal during remarks at the same event. He said "getting this through the commission" is essential to spreading broadband to more Americans.

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