Heartland Institute Tech Expert Reacts to FCC’s ‘Lifeline’ Proposal

Published January 9, 2012

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski today proposed reforming the Lifeline program that is part of the Universal Service Fund to provide telephone service to low-income Americans. The chairman wants the FCC to approve expanding the program to include broadband service and establish a national database of Lifeline users to track who is receiving the government aid.

The following statement from Bruce Edward Walker, managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News for The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/731-9364.

“Reform of the Universal Service Fund makes sense only if such reform translates as eliminating the USF altogether. Broadband coverage in the United States already serves at least 97 percent of the population, a fact reported in the Federal Communications Commission’s own research that seems to elude the chairman.

“Government fees account for 15 percent of customers’ regular service charges on average, which is more than double the sales tax levied in most states. Additionally, 59 cents of each USF dollar collected from users’ bills isn’t appropriated to build out and connections but to cover the administrative costs of perpetuating a completely unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Bruce Edward Walker
Managing Editor, InfoTech & Telecom News
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.