Energy and Commerce Leaders Request Information on Universal Service Fund
Today Reps. Waxman, Upton, Eshoo, and Walden sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski requesting data from the agency to assess how funding from the Universal Service program is distributed.
“In light of the important, initial reforms the FCC made to both the high-cost and low-income USF programs, we are asking several questions regarding the new and revised Universal Service mechanisms,” said Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman. “USF reform promises to better target funding to the millions of Americans currently unserved by broadband and wireless coverage, eliminate duplicative subsidies, and better align incentives to maximize scarce resources. We are requesting this data to help Congress and the public understand if and how USF reform is meeting those goals.”
“With the recent steps taken by the FCC to modernize and reduce waste within the USF high-cost and low-income programs, it’s incumbent upon this Committee to have the most up-to-date performance information,” said Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna G. Eshoo. “This is an important juncture on our way toward delivering a 21st century telecommunications infrastructure with affordable broadband for all Americans.”
"The FCC has begun to undertake critical reforms to ensure the continued viability of the Universal Service Fund. The committee has requested updated data to understand the FCC's progress to root out waste, fraud, and abuse. We look forward to reviewing the FCC's efforts to improve the way the USF is funded," said Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden.
The full text of the letter is below and is also available online here.
July 9, 2012
The Honorable Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
Dear Chairman Genachowski:
On June 22, 2011, the Committee on Energy and Commerce sent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a request for information concerning the Universal Service Fund (USF) programs. We are writing to ask that the Commission provide an update to that earlier information request. Since the Committee’s last request, the FCC has begun significant efforts to reform both the high-cost and low-income support programs. We have modified our data request to reflect the changes underway in both programs.
To assist the Committee’s work and the public’s understanding of the USF high-cost and low-income programs, we would appreciate your assistance in providing the following information:
1. A state-by-state list of total disbursements of USF support for each of the four USF programs for 2009, 2010, and 2011. Please provide an estimate of net contributor states and net recipient states. In addition, please provide a listing of the top ten recipients of high-cost support by state for 2009, 2010, and 2011.
2. An updated list of states that have a state-wide universal service fund and a brief explanation of the basis for contribution and what the fund supports.
3. A state-by-state list of competitive eligible telecommunications carriers and the names of such entities grouped by holding company. Please denote the Lifeline-only competitive telecommunications carriers who have notified the Commission that they are not facilities-based providers.
4. A timeline of all Commission and Bureau level decisions needed to implement the rules adopted in the USF/ICC Transformation Order and the progress the FCC has made to meet those deadlines to date.
5. An updated list of the top ten recipients, by holding company, of high-cost support for 2009, 2010, and 2011. Please provide a table showing the amount received for each of the high-cost programs, total high-cost support, and per-line high-cost support received during that three-year period by each holding company. As with the previous request, if a company received high-cost support for more than one corporate entity, please list separately the name and location of all entities receiving support, but attribute the total amount to the corporate parent.
6. A list of the all incumbent service areas that received $250 or more in per-line high-cost subsidies in 2011. For each service area, please include:
a. The geographic scope of the incumbent service area;
b. The total high-cost support received by the incumbent carrier, broken down by high-cost program, as well as the per-line support amount;
c. If the incumbent is eligible to disaggregate and target high-cost support, whether it has done so;
d. If the incumbent is a rural telephone company, whether its service area has been redefined;
e. A list of competitive eligible telecommunications carriers in these service areas, if any;
f. The wire centers each competitive eligible telecommunications carrier has been designated to serve within the incumbent service area;
g. The total support amounts received by each of these competitive eligible telecommunications carriers for 2009, 2010, and 2011; and,
h. A list of other competitors that do not receive high-cost support along with the wire centers they serve, to the extent that information is available.
7. A list of the ten incumbent service areas that received the largest amount of total high-cost support in 2009, 2010, and 2011. For each such service area, please include the information requested in question 6.
8. An updated list of the ten incumbent service areas with the most eligible telecommunications carriers in 2009, 2010, and 2011. For each such service area, please include the information requested in question 6.
9. A list of the carriers and study areas receiving increased high cost loop support (HCLS) as result of the April 25, 2012 Benchmarks Order and the amount of additional HCLS funding that will be distributed to those carriers as compared to HCLS funding for 2011.
10. A list of the carriers and study areas receiving decreased HCLS as a result of the Benchmarks Order and the amount of HCLS funding decrease those carriers will see as compared to HCLS funding 2011.
11. A list of the carriers that have requested a waiver of the new high cost support rules.
12. The amount of incremental additional funding that price cap carriers have accepted as part of the Connect America Fund Phase I; the number of locations those carriers will be required to deploy broadband to in total; and, by state, the number of housing units located in census blocks which those carriers have identified as areas where they intend to deploy broadband for which there was no broadband service available from any commercial broadband provider, including fixed and mobile wireless and satellite.
13. For each of the carriers identified in question 12, the number of housing units located in census blocks which those carriers have identified as areas where they intend to deploy broadband for which there is broadband service available from a commercial broadband provider, including providers of fixed and mobile wireless and satellite.
14. The amount of funding distributed under the Safety Net Additive program in 2009, 2010, and 2011 and the anticipated savings from phasing out Safety Net Additive support that would have been provided in 2012 to carriers based on line loss instead of new investment in telecommunications plant, broken down by carrier and study area.
15. The amount of projected total high-cost support for 2013 and the total amount of high-cost support provided in 2011.
16. A list of the carriers and study areas with lines where the residential local rate and state regulated fees are lower than a) $10 and b) $15 as of July 1, 2012 and the number of lines with rates below a) $10 and b) $15.
17. The total amount of low-income support disbursed for 2009, 2010, and 2011 for each program, nationally and on a state-by-state basis.
18. A list of the top ten recipients, by holding company, of low-income support for 2009, 2010, and 2011. Please provide a table showing the amount received by each recipient for each program separately and the total amount received by each recipient overall, to the extent that information is available.
19. A state-by-state list of the carriers that have been the subject of the Commission’s low-income duplicative support elimination process and the annual estimated savings that will result due to de-enrollment of duplicative support.
Please provide the requested information by August 10, 2012. If you have any questions about this request, please have a member of your staff contact David Redl for the Majority Committee staff at (202) 225-2927 or Margaret McCarthy for the Minority Committee staff at (202) 226-3400.
Henry A. Waxman
Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Anna G. Eshoo
Subcommittee on Communications and Technology