Congressional Letters Urge USF Broadband Support for Rate of Return Carriers

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Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), along with 40 of their colleagues have sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler seeking a policy change that permits Universal Service Fund (USF) support for carriers that provide rural consumers with broadband-only services.  Under current FCC rules, if a rural consumer buys voice services (with or without accompanying broadband services) from a small rural telephone company, the carrier is eligible for USF support. But, if the same rural consumer decides to buy only broadband services, the carrier is no longer eligible to receive USF support for that subscriber.  The letter calls on the FCC to “to implement a mechanism for rural rate-of-return carriers allowing them to receive USF support for broadband-only subscribers in high-cost areas of the United States.”  Congressman Cory Gardner (R-CO-04) led a similar letter that was signed by 89 members of the House of Representatives.

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