In the previous article we touched on some of the initial programs that both worked towards creating and protecting protocols on behalf of consumer interests as well as ones that funded the first progressive steps throughout the various stages of telecommunications advancing their capabilities. We covered a span from the early 1900’s and such programs as the Universal Service Fund, the Ozark Fund, the Willis Graham Act and the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and through the 1960’s and the era of technological advancements leading to the eventual creation of the internet as we know it today. The very programs that ensured that consumers had options beyond the ‘to have or not to have’ that a monopolization of the industry would have created.
In this article we will be touching on the programs that funded the advancements of telecommunications from the pre-public-access-internet era into the era in which the internet became a public commodity. The span of time that we will cover in this article is roughly from the 1960’s to the 1990’s and will include the ammended version of the Telecommunications Act of 1934 in the amended and rewritten version of called the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
According to the FCC the goals of Universal Service as outline in the amended Telecommunications Act of 1996 includes promoting the availability of quality service; reasonable and affordable rates for all consumers; increase in nationwide access to advanced telecommunication services; ensure telecommunication access to all schools, libraries and hospitals; and provide non-discriminatory services.
When the internet advanced to the stage of being public access it was a luxury even for companies, all the so for individuals and households. However, over the course of the past three decades though that luxury has become a necessity. Everyday life from finding jobs, applying for jobs, maintaining ones employment, managing healthcare, and banking, just to touch on all revolves on internet access. And these are just a few of the many aspects governed by that accessibility to internet. Individuals are just as dependent upon that access as companies are. It is that very dependency that has made the internet a necessity in this day and age. The fact that so much of everyday life does require access to internet to some extent one of the primary focuses to ensure that all Americans have access regardless of their financial health.
CAF Phases I, II, and III
CAF is one such program allocating funds to start the upgrading of technologies in rural areas. Phase II of the CAF program allocated 1.675 billion in 2014/2015 and another 1.488 billion in 2018 to CAF phase III. The focus of CAF was to allocate funds to rural areas that had either no service or minimal service on outdated technology. Thus the purpose of CAF is to bring a reformation of technologies to areas otherwise often overlooked and provide them with frontline services.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (referred to as 2009-ARRA through the remainder of articles in this series)ordered that the FCC create a plan focused on improving internet access in the United States. Under that command the FCC created the National Broadband Plan. The 2009-ARRA required a detailed strategy to be planned and executed while minimizing the power and authority that the FCC had to make amendments.
The Committment To Provide Internet Access
It is evident that there are many departments, each with a large group of people vested in providing America with the most up-to-date technological capabilities, so desire and motivation isn’t in question. But with so many different irons in the fire how can the government ensure the following: 1.) that funds are being allocated accordingly, 2.) that funds allocated will be used as per the guidelines, and 3.) that those being granted the allocated funds follow through with using the funds as stated and per the guidelines?
Part 2 of 10 in the series: The Funding Of Advancements Made To The Telecommunication Capabilities.
Written By: Crystal Lori-Ann Winkelman (July 2019)
References and further reading material…….
Being as this is definitely an extremely in depth topic to cover I would like to introduce a new section to the blogs that whenever there is much more to cover than the space permits I will be including a final paragraph after all the links of additional reading and research material for you that is relevant to the article. Below is the first such additional reading and research material for those interested.
While we would love to also be delving into all of the programs and the protections and assurances that newer programs along with amended mandates put into place over the course of the internet era the space allotted only permits so much coverage. However, here is a list of the most versed programs (from the ‘Connect America Fund’ AKA CAF which has two phases; ‘National Broadband Plan’; ‘Lifeline’; ‘Link-Up America’; ‘Rural Health Care Program’; ‘The Healthcare Connect Fund’; ‘USAC’) for further reading