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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
February 22 , 2006
(202) 289-8928
Panelists Confirmed for USF Reverse Auction Event
March 1st Panel to Present Perspectives of Economists, Industry, and Regulators

WASHINGTON D.C. - The high cost of the universal service program has some policymakers promoting reverse auctions -- a process where service providers would bid for the right to provide subsidized service -- as a way to curb costs through market efficiency. On March 1st, The Progress & Freedom Foundation will host "Universal Service Reform: Are Reverse Auctions the Answer?," a half-day conference exploring the pros and cons of such reform. The event will feature a diverse international panel of economists and telecommunications experts.

Confirmed panel participants represent a variety of perspectives from the telecommunications industry and academia. Shyamal Ghosh, Administrator of India’s Universal Service Obligations, will discuss India’s recent experience implementing reverse auctions and universal service. Ghosh has extensive regulatory experience, previously serving as Chairman of the Telecom Commission and Secretary of the Indian Department of Telecommunications. Dennis Weller, Chief Economist at Verizon, will present views from the perspective of the U.S. telecommunications industry. Weller has held the position of Chief Economist at a variety of communications and technology companies and is credited with negotiating an industry agreement to decrease access charges in the U.S. Weller has written and spoken extensively on the potential role of reverse auctions in universal service reforms.

Two respected academics will also participate on the conference discussion panel. Paul Milgrom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, was the primary academic contributor to the original FCC spectrum auction design - the simultaneous ascending auction. Milgrom's most recent book is "Putting Auction Theory to Work." Vernon Smith, Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University, is a renowned expert on the structure of auctions. Smith won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2002 for his work in experimental economics.

The event will be held on March 1st in Oriental Ballroom C at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel from 12:00pm - 3:00pm. The 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 included a cap on the overall size of the fund, the introduction of performance-based block grants, and shifting funding to a "numbers tax," described as a tax on access rather than usage. The report, one of many DACA reports resulting from PFF fellows collaborating with other academics, 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