Monday, May 10, 2010

USF - "Find the Good and Praise It"

[posted for Deborah Taylor Tate

"Find the good and praise it" is one of the famous injunctions I try to follow. It comes by way of my Tennessee colleague, Alex Haley, author of Roots.

So I want to applaud Chairman Genachowski for including the Universal Service rulemaking notice on the FCC's May agenda. In this new digital age, given the breadth of the FCC's National Broadband Plan, the agency needs to utilize every tool in the toolbox --including a revamp of the arcane and inefficient Universal Service Fund program. A total revamp of the subsidy program is absolutely crucial, especially in light of the fact that American taxpayers are shouldering the 15.2 percent added fee (aka "contribution factor") on all interstate calls. This is an unacceptable burden in this historic economic downturn.

However, now that universal service reform is on the agenda, I hope the FCC will pick up where we left off in December 2008 -- 17 months ago --- when I served on the Commission. And, rather than delay, make the tough decisions that are crucial and necessary. Subsidies for the most competitive markets in history no longer make economic sense. The focus should be on the unserved areas and unconnected people.

I wish Commissioner Mignon Clyburn well in her work as Chairman of the Federal-State Joint Board on USF.

To reform USF you have to make tough, but necessary decisions. So my advice, like President Truman's, is: "Get a dog!" And get the job done.