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Rep. Matsui: Cap the USF, Ensure Broadband Adoption

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), a member of the House Communications Subcommittee, is trying to collect signatures on a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski asking him to ensure that its Universal Service Fund (USF) reforms include funding for broadband adoption as well as deployment, and that the FCC cap the fund.

"Consumers today contribute $4.5 billion annually toward the USF support for incumbent telephone companies in high-cost areas. Some of the plans proposed to the Commission would increase the amount of this support," the letter says, arguing that it need not be increased. "The availability of up to $4.5 billion per year, appropriately targeted to high-cost areas, should provide sufficient funding to support broadband deployment," she wrote.

Cable operators have criticized the highest-profile of those plans, the telco-backed ABC Plan, for "ballooning" the cost of that fund in the interests of incumbent telcos.

"A truly complete USF program would include adequate funding to bring critical programs, like broadband adoption initiatives modeled after the [phone-based] Lifeline and Link Up, into the broadband era," she said.

According to a spokesperson for the congresswoman, the letter will likely be sent out Friday.

Matsui is preaching to the choir when it comes to adoption. Genachowski divided his time Tuesday between a D.C. event rolling out Comcast's low-coast broadband adoption offer, and New York, where Microsoft was unveiling a three-year program "to ensure that 1 million students from low-income families in the United States receive the benefits of software, hardware and broadband Internet service."