FCC Commissioner O’Rielly published a new blog post offering suggestions and elements for Mobility Fund Phase II and Universal Service Fund Reform. Although he is skeptical of the timing and value of new mobile-only universal service subsidy program rules, he outlines six principles for reform that he suggests should be applied to any new program for wireless carriers.
His six principles for reform are as follows:
- Prohibit overlap and target support – fund only those areas that do not already have wireless services of at least 4G capabilities;
- Subsidize only one carrier – provide subsidies where competition cannot develop on its own and then only to one carrier;
- Phase out current support – design a very narrow phase-out of support for existing recipients of funds (suggests 2 years);
- Populations, not roads – target population areas to use funds most efficiently;
- Providers must offer broadband – create requirements for subsidy recipients to offer broadband of certain capabilities for wireless carriers under a Mobility Fund Phase II;
- Finish RAF – address the Remote Areas Fund (RAF) in conjunction with creating the Mobility Fund Phase II.
Commissioner O’Rielly expresses his concern over creating a separate subsidy fund for wireless carriers, noting that users will eventually be able to use wired and wireless networks for all desired communications and subsidizing this would ignore improvements made in wireless broadband, voice capabilities, and 5G. Secondly, he raises budgetary concerns and suggests the budget should be reevaluated in light of 4G LTE deployment because this funding will be needed in other areas. He also suggests that the funding should be combined with all other unallocated high-cost funds and address open funding needs as a whole.
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