Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, today issued a statement on the FCC's unanimous bipartisan vote to modernize and reform the universal service fund. The fund, which is designed to promote universal telecommunications services, has long required reform to more efficiently allocate funds where they're needed most and stop hurting states like Massachusetts which have paid in significantly more than they received despite pressing needs at home.
Between 2000 and 2009, Massachusetts telephone customers paid $1.47 billion in surcharges into the Universal Service Fund but drew out only $415 million in benefits -- even though there are large pockets in Western Massachusetts that still have no access to affordable high speed broadband.
"A lot of people didn't think this would be politically possible, but today's reforms are long overdue," Senator Kerry said. "Today's reforms will get broadband built out in a way that's fiscally responsible and fair. Massachusetts consumers have been paying into this fund for far too long without seeing the benefits they deserve. A lot of people out in Western Massachusetts still don't have access to affordable, reliable broadband, and that's unacceptable. Now states like Massachusetts should get their fair share and Universal Service Fund dollars should go where they're needed most."
Earlier this month Senator Kerry spoke in favor of Universal Service Fund reform at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing.