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FCC presents broadband proposals, disappointing some consumer groups

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday unveiled a laundry list of proposals to meet a congressional mandate to give every U.S. home access to high-speed Internet service.

The recommendations, which come just two months before the agency must present its final national broadband plan to Congress, include revising a rural phone subsidy program, revamping the market for television set-top boxes and redirecting more airwaves to wireless services.

Many of the ideas were widely expected and have already angered different corners of the communications sector as well as public interest groups, which argue that the proposals don't do enough to encourage more competition in an industry dominated by AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.

One proposal floated by the agency's broadband task force calls for using money from the Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes rural phone service, to pay for adding high-speed Internet capacity in remote and low-income regions of the country. The program raises about $7 billion annually from fees on long-distance phone service, and the idea of redirecting those funds has upset rural phone carriers, which have come to rely on the subsidies.

"It's tempting to kick the can further down the road," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, referring to the Universal Service Fund. "But for many reasons it's important to begin tackling these issues now. We must make sure that the fund fully supports the technology of today and tomorrow, not just the technology of the past."

Read the whole story here.

By Cecilia Kang  |  December 17, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Broadband , FCC  
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