According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the FCC could open up for public comment a number of proposals for overhauling the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is a multi-billion dollar federal phone-subsidy program that includes aid for wireless companies providing service in rural areas. Last year the USF's budget came to $7 billion, up from $5.2 billion in 2002. Wireless subscribers pay a USF service charge through their phone bills.
The FCC is looking at a reverse-auction system to decide which companies should receive multi-million dollar payments for providing service to rural areas. Another plan seeks to lower the amount wireless carriers would receive. The FCC is also considering a plan to set aside money for broadband Internet lines.
For more on the potential USF changes:
- read this report from the WSJ