Washington, DC – RWA is encouraged by a bipartisan bill that has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, the Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act (S. 3236), which would mandate Universal Service Fund contribution reform. Not only does the bill require the Federal Communications Commission to conduct a study assessing the need for expanding the contribution base to be reported to Congress, but it also mandates that the FCC complete a rulemaking, within one year of enactment, to reform the USF contribution system. RWA has been at the forefront of this issue for the last several years and thus appreciates Congress’ directive to initiate a well-overdue reform of an outdated contribution system.
RWA has joined a 254-entity coalition that supports this bill and supports swift action by Congress to make USF contribution reform a reality. The current contribution system is unsustainable at its current contribution rate of over 30 percent. Based on a proposal by USF expert Carol Mattey in her recent “USForward” report, with adequate reform, the contribution factor could be lowered below 4 percent. Furthermore, the aggregate USF monies are rapidly diminishing, which many rural broadband service providers rely on. New legislation, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, does not alleviate this issue as that funding only goes towards building new networks, not maintaining the existing broadband networks that rural Americans depend on.
Without reform of the contribution system that increases funding for broadband services in high cost areas, the U.S. will continually be at a competitive disadvantage to other parts of the world that enjoy higher broadband speeds, lower latency and sufficient throughputs.