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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
February 6, 2007
(202) 289-8928

Universal Service: Are Reverse Auctions the Answer?
March 1st Event to Address Reverse Auctions as Means of Reform

WASHINGTON D.C. - On March 1st, The Progress & Freedom Foundation will host a conference entitled "Universal Service Reform: Are Reverse Auctions the Answer?" The event will feature a diverse international panel of economists, academics and telecommunications experts to discuss and debate the promise and perils of reverse auctions as a mechanism for reforming universal service. The keynote luncheon speaker will be announced in upcoming weeks.

Universal service subsidies, which were expected to total over $7 billion in 2006, are intended to ensure basic communications technologies are available to all. The high costs of the program have led some to suggest implementation of reverse auctions, a process where service providers would bid for subsidies. This approach is intended to curb increases in universal service expenditures while providing a more accurate representation of service cost by introducing market forces into process.

Panelist scheduled the participate in the discussion and debate include Shyamal Ghosh, Former Director, Indian Department of Telecommunications and Administrator of India’s Universal Service Obligations; Paul Milgrom, Professor of Economics, Stanford University; Vernon Smith, Professor of Economics and Law, George Mason University; and Dennis Weller, Chief Economist, Verizon.

The event will be held on March 1st in Oriental Ballroom C at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel from 12:00pm - 3:00pm. Mandarin Oriental Hotel is located at 1330 Maryland Avenue, SW, in Washington, DC. Those wishing to attend should register online. Questions should be addressed to Jane Creel at 202-289-8928 or Members of the press should direct queries to Amy Smorodin at 202-289-8928 or

In late October, 2005, The Digital Age Communications Act Project Universal Service Reform Working Group released a report containing a set of recommendations for reform of the fund. Specific recommendations include a cap on the overall size of the fund, the introduction of performance-based block grants, and shift funding to a "numbers tax," described as a tax on access rather than usage. The report can be found on the PFF website.

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.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation