The Federal Communications Commission voted on Friday to gather information on a plan to ask companies to invest in efforts to expand telephone and broadband networks.
The FCC is working to revamp a fund that subsidizes phone and broadband access in rural or other underserved areas. The fund is paid for by fees from from telecom companies, but FCC officials say the system can be unfair and inefficient.
"The current contribution system has given rise to uncertainty, inefficiency, and market distortions," the FCC said in a statement. "Outdated rules and loopholes mean that services that compete directly against each other may face different treatment."
With its vote, the FCC solicited information on which companies should contribute to the fund, and how the fees should be assessed, among other issues.
The FCC also voted to approve three other significant items, including rules requiring broadcasters to disclose political ad revenue online; a plan to allow broadcasters to share channels to free up spectrum; and regulations to crack down on unauthorized phone charges.