Bill will direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reform funding mechanisms for the Universal Service Fund (USF), which promotes universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, and Senator John Thune (R-SD) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the funding mechanisms for the USF, which promotes universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services.

“In 2021, we should be able to bring high-speed internet to every family in America — regardless of their zip code,” said Klobuchar. This bill will help ensure we have the resources to keep the Universal Service Fund strong so we can continue to expand access to broadband. As a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, I will continue fighting to improve our nation’s broadband infrastructure.”

“It is crucial that rural communities across South Dakota have access to reliable broadband services,” said Thune. “For years I have fought for predictable and sufficient support for broadband providers to help enable the continued deployment of these services throughout our communities. I’m proud to support this legislation that builds on those efforts to ensure that the FCC’s Universal Service Fund remains sustainable in the future.”

The USF -- which includes programs to support broadband access in rural communities, facilitate rural health care, and expand access to affordable broadband service for low-income families, schools, and libraries -- is largely funded by fees imposed on landlines. As the use of landlines continues to decline, this places a disproportionate impact on seniors, who are significantly more likely to use a landline than younger adults. 

The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act directs the FCC to initiate a rule-making proceeding to reform the contributions system, taking into account the fairness and the relative burden any changes in fees will have on consumers and businesses, as well as the impact the proposed changes to the contribution system will have on seniors.

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