U.S. Cellular president and CEO John Rooney said that the Federal-State Joint Board's recommendation that subsidies for companies providing phone service in rural areas be slashed was "nothing to give thanks for." Rooney said that such a move to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the Universal Service Fund would hamper new wireless investment and force rural households into a federally regulated monopoly system.
"In fact, it is about as far away from true reform as one can get," Rooney said. "These recommendations represent a turn of the clock back to an era of monopoly providers and inadequate service and thwart what Congress set out to accomplish with the Telecommunications Act of 1996."
The board called for a cap of $4.5 billion for the so-called "high-cost" portion of the USF program, while $1 billion should be set aside for wireless phone service, the group said. Broadband Internet service subsidies should not exceed $300 million, according to the board.
For more on the USF caps:
- read this article from KnoxNews
- read this article from FierceTelecom