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About the Universal Service Fund (USF)

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An Overview

When the Federal Communications Commission created the Universal Service Fund in 1996, one of its main goals was to subsidize the availability of quality telecommunications services at fair and reasonable rates throughout the nation. At its inception, the USF was mainly utilized to finance telephone communications, although with broadband emerging as the new communication medium, the FCC plans to transition the USF to subsidize broadband.
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Currently, the USF provides broadband support via E-Rate to schools and libraries, but with the constant development of new technology, there has been much debate over the technology types and companies that should fund the program. There has also been much discussion pertaining to companies “gaming” the system by maintaining antiquated equipment in order to receive larger subsidies.
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The purpose of this site is to create visualizations and conduct analyses on each of the four USF programs: High Cost, Low Income, Rural Health Care, and Schools and Libraries.
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-Through data visualizations, we will to paint a clear picture of the allocation of USF funding across the United States.
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-Through statistical analysis and mathematical modeling, we will explore ways to more efficiently allocate USF funds nationwide.
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Schools and Libraries

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The Schools & Libraries Universal Service Fund - also referred to as E-Rate - provides support to carriers who provide affordable telecommunication and internet services to eligible schools, districts and libraries. The USF determines the amount of support given to a provider based on the poverty level and the urban/rural status of the area served.
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Rural Health Care

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Carriers in the Rural Health Care program receive subsidies for providing discounted rates for telecommunications and internet services to rural health care providers. This program presents doctors and patients in rural areas with affordable access to communicate with hospitals and specialists in cities across the country.
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High Cost

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Carriers in the High Cost support program provide consumers in remote areas with fair rates for telecommunication services. Without this support, telephone services would not be equally affordable to those living in rural and remote areas.
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Low Income

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Carriers in the Low Income support program provide reduced fairs and minimized installation costs for basic telephone services to millions of households in low-income areas. The support program is comprised of two programs: Link-Up America and Lifeline Assistance. The Link-Up program helps consumers with telephone installation expenses, while Lifeline Assistance allows subscribers to receive discounted rates on basic service at their place of residence.
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