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Performance Measures for the High Cost Universal Service Fund

Posted: 12 Mar 2009  

Jerry Ellig

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: March 12, 2009


The Federal Communications Commission has spent $30 billion over the past decade on subsidies for phone service in high cost areas, but it has never developed outcome goals or measures to assess whether the subsidies have accomplished the intended results. Congress should require the FCC to measure the outcomes articulated in the Telecommunications Act: access in rural areas to services reasonably comparable to those in urban areas at reasonably comparable rates. Legislators should also require the FCC or independent analysts to:

1. Analyze how much of a change in these two outcomes the high cost fund has caused,
2. Assess how this change in access and price has affected subscribership, and
3. Estimate how this change in subscribership has affected the economic, social, and cultural opportunities available to rural households, or other broad social benefits the high cost fund is supposed to promote.

This paper was originally submitted as written testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet

Keywords: telecommunications, broadband, universal service, performance measures, high cost fund, Federal Communications Commission

JEL Classification: D61, H11, H29, K23, L14, L38, L51, L96, L98

Suggested Citation

Ellig, Jerry, Performance Measures for the High Cost Universal Service Fund (March 12, 2009). Available at SSRN:

Jerry Ellig (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd
4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201-4433
United States
703-375-9410 (Phone)


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