FCC’s O’Reilly on USF Budgetary Cap
In a blog posting, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly shared this thoughts on an item circulating among the Commissioners that would establish an overall cap on the federal USF program. He said, in part: “[a]lot of foolish policy ideas are floated in Washington, DC, so it’s fortuitous when the federal government undertakes thoughtful and sensible policy reform. The FCC recently chose the latter and better course last week when an item was circulated to Commissioners to begin a rulemaking that would establish a much-needed and overdue budget for the agency’s Universal Service Fund (USF). Against the backdrop of special interest groups and uninformed detractors reflexively opposed to any restraint on the agency’s redistributive subsidies, I am proud to lead this effort to inject more fiscal responsibility into the USF. At its heart, this effort is about protecting the hardworking American consumers who bear the burden of paying regressive USF fees, and promoting and maintaining universal service in a more predictable, efficient, and responsible manner.”
He went on to say that: ”The necessity of a budget is self-evident in the context of the Commission’s USF program….While I am a firm supporter of the principle of universal service, which has been inherent to the fabric of federal communications law for decades, historic evidence of inefficiencies, fraud, and duplicative spending across certain parts of the USF is alarming. In particular, wasteful overbuilding among the constituent programs remains one of the fund’s most serious problems. Meanwhile, USF spending has steadily increased over the years, and we’ve seen the “contribution factor”— the burden levied on consumers—which currently hovers around 20 percent of a contributor’s telephone bill, continually rise. It may not be listed in the Internal Revenue Code, but, make no mistake, this fee functions like a tax on consumer phone bills. Fundamentally, I believe we must set an upper limit of what we’re willing to take from hardworking American consumers to support these subsidies. Determining this maximum level is also a necessary precondition to any effort to reform the FCC’s method for assessing USF contributions.”
He added that the item’s proposed budgetary cap of $11.42 billion “is well-above current disbursement levels, leaving almost a $2 billion cushion for potential future spending” and warned that “it is untrammeled USF spending that ultimately impedes digital access, not a cap on the fund…While it may be easy to demagogue the introduction of further budgetary constraints on the USF, bringing universal connectivity to Americans requires a much more holistic and thoughtful approach. Through this item, that’s exactly what we intend to pursue.”
The Regulatory Mix Today: FCC’s O’Reilly on USF Budgetary Cap, FTC Seeks Privacy Practices Information From US Internet Broadband Providers
FTC Seeks Privacy Practices Information From US Internet Broadband Providers
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an Order to seven U.S. Internet broadband providers seeking information that it will use to examine how broadband companies collect, retain, use, and disclose personal information (PI) about consumers and their devices. The companies included providers of fixed (e.g., cable, DSL, fiber) and mobile broadband. The companies were directed to provide information about what kind of data they collected, why it’s collected, whether the data is shared with third parties (or received from them), if the data is de-identified, how much control and choice consumers are given over their data, and the procedures allowing consumers change or delete their personal information. The FTC’s definition of “personal information” is included below for your convenience. The FTC gave the companies 45 days from the date of service to file a Special Report containing the information and documents requested with the FTC. Inteserra Briefing Service subscribers see Briefing dated 3/29/19.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.