Should the Universal Service Fund Include Wireless Broadband

Carl Ford : 4G Wireless Evolution
Carl Ford
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Should the Universal Service Fund Include Wireless Broadband

In a panel discussion at 4G world the general opinion was that USF will be modified to include the ability to support wireless broadband strategies.

"Their is growing consensus that Universal Service should include wireless" said Hank Hultquist of ATT.  Many panel members echoed these comments, but the details as to what will be included were not the full topic of the discussion.

Currently the definition of broadband is under discussion at the FCC. 

Many carriers are worried that a definition now may be unattainable as they service the growing data needs of the consumer.  Previously Kris Rinne, 4G CTO of ATT, stated that they were seeing a 4000%  growth in the data traffic since the adoption of the iPhone and other smartphones.

Questions that will have to be addressed include whether the addition of wireless to the fund will be associated with reform to the fund itself or as an addition.  Current adminstration members were instrumental in the development of the USF in the Clinton adminstration and have a favorable view to the model.

However the costs associated with the High Cost land line services may not be valid when talking about Wireless strategies, and it may be that the inclusion represents alternative services as well via the E-rate model.

It has been suggested that many of the proposals attempting to use the stimulus dollars are similar in ownership structure associated with E-rate.


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