DACA Workshop on Universal Service Reform
WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senator John Sununu (R-New Hampshire) will keynote a public forum December 7 on reforming communications law hosted by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. The focus of discussion will be a proposal for reforming the universal service program, complete with model legislative language, which is the product of a working group of PFF's Digital Age Communications Act (DACA). Those wishing to attend can register online.
"You won't find a more forward-looking U.S. Senator than John Sununu," says PFF President Ray Gifford. "He's brought a solid background in science and engineering to the Senate Commerce Committee, and has proven to be a champion of new technologies and services such as Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP. I eagerly await his thoughts on the important topic of communications regulatory reform and universal service."
PFF launched DACA in February with the intent of providing guidance for regulators and legislators on how to address regulatory issues in an era of competing digital services and platforms. DACA consists of dozens of individuals, including PFF fellows, scholars at other think tanks and universities, and public policy officials from the last five presidential administrations. There are five working groups -- Regulatory Framework, Federal/State Framework, Universal Service, Spectrum Policy, and Institutional Reform. The Universal Service Working Group last month released a preliminary report proposing that universal service reform should include a cap on the fund, introduce performance-based block grants, and shift funding to a "numbers tax."
The public forum will be December 7 from 4-7 p.m. in the Thornton Room atop the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, and will be followed by a reception. At the forum, the DACA Universal Service Working Group Co-Chairmen -- Gifford, former PFF Regulatory Counsel Adam Peters and Columbia University Professor Michael Riordan -- and other Working Group members will explain the group's proposal and its rationale and will hear reactions from other DACA members. The event will also include a panel discussion on the proposal representing a wide range of parties involved in the universal service debate, and attendees are encouraged to ask questions and make suggestions.
With a goal of balancing benefits and costs in the universal service program, the Working group proposed three key features:
- A cap on overall size to force the FCC to allocate scarce funds on the assessment of comparable affordability of basic electronic communication services across states.
- Performance-based block grants, administered by state authorities, which could devise their own distribution mechanisms within guidelines set by the FCC to allocate funds most efficiently.
- Funding from a transparent "numbers tax" on access rather than usage, with each tax for consumer and business lines running between $0.59 and $0.77 per month.
To ensure a place, those wishing to attend should register online. A holiday reception will follow the event. Questions should be addressed to Eileen Goulding at 202-289-8928 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Media should direct queries to Patrick Ross or Amy Smorodin at 202-289-8928 or email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.