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Reforms urged in federal Universal Service Fund for rural phones

From the paper today

By Cecilia Kang

Americans are turning away from home phone lines and toward mobile, but a federal program continues to pour $8 billion a year into phone service for rural homes and businesses. Last year in Chelan, Wash., for instance, the fund paid an average of $17,763 each for 17 residents to get phone lines.

But as the nation looks to wireless and fiber broadband networks as its on-ramp to e-mail, tweets and Skype calls, lawmakers and regulators have called for sweeping changes to the Universal Service Fund.

Created in 1997 to connect the nation by phone, the subsidy program has come under criticism as a symbol of inefficient federal telecommunications policy.

In some areas, the subsidies go to multiple companies providing the same services.

Read here for full story.

By Cecilia Kang  |  July 20, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Broadband , FCC  
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