Yesterday, TechFreedom filed comments at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding issues related to the future of the Universal Service Fund in light of the broadband investments called for in the recent Infrastructure Act. The FCC must report to Congress by August.
“The federal government is poised to spend an unprecedented amount on broadband,” said James E. Dunstan, TechFreedom’s General Counsel. “Yet it lacks the basic mechanisms in place to undertake this adventure. Multiple agencies spending billions on redundant programs with no valid maps demarking where broadband has already been deployed — what could possibly go wrong? Well, pretty much everything. We’re going to see waste, fraud and abuse on a level we’ve never encountered.”
“The whole idea that we can save USF by getting ‘Big Tech’ to contribute is without any statutory authority,” Dunstan continued. “The statute is quite clear that only providers of ‘telecommunications services’ contribute, and platforms and edge providers simply don’t fit into that category. The solution remains, as it always has, to fund universal service through general revenues, not the most highly regressive tax in history.”
“Buried in a footnote is the key issue in this proceeding,” Dunstan concluded. “There are substantial questions as to the constitutionality of the entire USF regime, especially the amount of power delegated by the FCC to a private company (USAC). Given recent cases reining in other agencies under the nondelegation doctrine, the FCC should be worried that the entire USF scheme could be upended by the courts.”
We can be reached for comment at email@example.com. Read our related work, including:
- The Arrival of the Federal Computer Commission?, Regulatory Transparency Project (Aug. 27, 2021)
- Our Comments to the FTC highlighting the nondelegation doctrine, (Sep. 30, 2021)
- Our Comments on why the FCC has no authority over edge providers such as streaming services, (May 15, 2021)
- Our Comments to the FCC on rural eConnectivity programs, (Apr. 27, 2021)
- Our Comments to the FCC on the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, (Jan. 25, 2021)
TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.