Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2009


This paper examines the current structure of universal service and the FCC’s Universal Service Fund, recent pushes to expand the definition of and funding for universal service to include broadband access, and how broadband internet can contribute to saving the ailing economy. The paper concludes by calling for the inclusion of broadband internet in the Universal Service Fund.

Current financial support for the Universal Service Fund is problematic in that only telecommunications carriers providing interstate services are required to contribute to the fund. The author maintains that the contribution base should be expanded to include companies providing broadband internet access. With its preexisting mandate to bring telecommunications services to underserved communities in rural areas, the Universal Service Fund is a logical conduit for funding of broadband deployment. Such deployment could ultimately have a significant positive effect on both the local and national economies, and improve access to education, healthcare, and public safety.