SHLB Implores FCC to Reject Overall USF Cap July 29, 2019
For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. (July 29, 2019) - Today the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition filed comments opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to place an overall cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF) programs.
The SHLB Coalition comments emphasize that the E-rate, Rural Health Care, Connect America Fund, and Lifeline programs work in tandem to address different aspects of the digital divide and should not have to compete with each other for funding. Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 states that funding for these programs should be “specific, predictable, and sufficient.” An overall cap on USF would directly disobey this congressional directive. Though proponents of the cap deny it would create a “universal service hunger games,” the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking specifically states that it “seeks to promote a robust debate on the relative effectiveness of the programs.”
“As someone who had the honor of drafting significant portions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, I am especially certain that an overall USF cap goes against congressional intent,” said John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the SHLB Coalition. “The SHLB Coalition supports increasing certainty, efficiency, and sustainability within each of the individual USF programs, but imposing an arbitrary and capricious funding cap on the entire Universal Service Fund is a distraction from what should be the FCC’s principal mission - closing the digital divide and promoting broadband access for all Americans.”
The SHLB Coalition previously joined with 63 other organizations in filing a statement opposing the overall cap on June 11. On July 9, 14 members of Congress sent the Commission their own letter urging it not to establish an overall cap on USF funding.
The SHLB Coalition is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-quality broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. The SHLB Coalition is based in Washington, D.C. and has a diverse membership of commercial and non-commercial organizations from across the United States. To learn more, visit www.shlb.org.