Universal Service Fund Reports Over Seven Billion Dollars Disbursed And Yet America Remains Ninth In Telecommunications Rankings Worldwide
Congress has allocated billions of dollars throughout the past two and a half decades for funding the upgrades and improvements necessary that ISP companies and the technology linking them to the world are in the constant need of. The FCC created the Universal Service Fund (USF) in 1997 in order to keep up with the 1996TA* (Telecommunications Act of 1996) and is replenished through various fees charged to telecommunication companies. The fees (which is currently at 20.1%) charged to telecommunications companies is then passed on to the consumers as part of their monthly invoice. The billions of dollars paid into the USF is then distributed throughout four programs.
The problem with FCC funds being replenished through the charging of fees to all telecommunication companies is that there is no distinction between what company is paying vs where it is going. For example, a landline company will pay in 20.1% of their revenue to the same fund that cellular companies are paying their 20.1%. Then its redistributed. This has raised the concern of if the program funding the ISP’s is being granted their fair share. Many have recommended that the various departments be broken down into sections that collect their own fund and distribute their own funds.
We Must Know The History of the Telecommunications Foundation of Which Advancement and Progress Can Be Built Upon
Over the course of the past several decades there have been multiple programs in place to ensure that monitoring, addressing issues and reforming protocols that were in place to ones that would better suit the protections of everyone as well as ensure that advancements in telecommunication capabilities are made available in a timely manner. These programs would eventually move to include allocating funds for upgrades and improvements. Two of the first programs was the Senate Commerce Committee and the Willis Graham Act of 1921. These programs debated the pro’s and con’s of allowing a telecommunications monopoly vs prohibiting a telecommunications monopoly. What they meant is that had the monopoly won then each community would be allowed one service provider. There would be no options available to the consumer.
The Communications Act of 1934 focused on the progress of making the current telecommunications capabilities accessible to the general public within a timely manner. The Communications Act went through extensive review and was thoroughly amended to meet the needs of the nation with foresight of future progress. The new Communications Act was released as the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
These programs were the cornerstones of the varying foundations supporting the advancement of telecommunication capabilities nationwide. With the foundations laid and reinforced the the structure of progress was ready to be built by creating programs allocating funding.
Allocating Funds For Progress in Telecommunications Capabilities
The first program to secure funding was the Ozark Plan. The 1960’s proved to be a very cutthroat era for telecommunications as companies had been allowed to monopolize markets for almost thirty years and several companies worked fervently to make the 1960’s the era of change thus abolishing the structure of monopolization. These advances of the 1960’s would eventually lead to be division of companies in the 1980’s that focused on monopolizing the entire industry. AT&T was at the height of this pyramid of companies focused on progressively and aggressively achieving entire communities under the monopoly structure.
The Ozark Plan of 1970 was the catalyst that made it possible for the smaller companies that had worked throughout the 1960’s to make the necessary progress and carry them through to the 1980’s which would become known as The Era of Deregulation. The 1980’s brought amazing changes from terminating the original platforms of the internet that then allowed it to gradually transition to being a public commodity in the mid 1980’s to the breakdown and disbursement of companies known for monopolizing entire markets and even to the extent of assigning each telecommunication company so many numbers so that aggressive companies could not overtake the market anymore.
The 1996 Act states: “All providers of telecommunications services should contribute to federal universal service in an equitable and nondiscriminatory manner. There should be specific, predictable, and sufficient Federal and State mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service. “All schools, classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should, generally, have access to advanced telecommunications services. And finally, that the Federal-State Joint Board and the FCC should determine those other principles that, consistent with the 1996 Act, are necessary to protect the public interest.”
What To Expect In The July Series
As we have touched on the early programs and how they have helped or hindered the advancements of the telecommunications industry we still have much further to delve before we even finish scratching the surface much less have a true understanding as to the extent that the FCC and Congress has gone to ensure that the public has had access to the most current telecommunication capabilities since the early 1900’s. We are going to take a close look at many of the funding programs, grants, and advances made both within companies, protocols, and with the technology itself. Please hit the subscribe button to be informed when a new article has been posted and join us on this ever enlightening journey in the world of telecommunication capabilities and what it means for you today.
Part 1 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…….