High-Cost Universal Service Support
This section summarizes our proposed framework for reform. Our proposals are designed to achieve the four core principles above - modernizing and refocusing USF and ICC to ensure all Americans have access to robust, affordable broadband and to accelerate the transition to IP networks; fiscal responsibility; accountability; and use of market-driven and incentive-based policies - and we seek to ensure that the future of USF and ICC are consistent with those principles. We recognize, however, that there are a number of potential paths to that future state. We also recognize the difficulty of precisely forecasting the consequences of changes to a system as complex and interdependent as USF and ICC, as well as the benefits of piloting innovative policies - such as competitive bidding to support build out and ongoing operation of fixed and mobile broadband networks - before broader implementation. We therefore propose several specific, near-term steps that will accelerate broadband investment in unserved areas and set USF and ICC on a path that is consistent with the principles we have proposed; we then describe alternatives for completing the reform process over the longer term. We intend to monitor the progress of the near-term reforms and adjust course as necessary as we complete the reform process from among the longer-term options.