Verizon Supports Universal Service Reform Legislation

Verizon signaled its support Tuesday (Nov. 17) of legislation to reform the universal service communications subsidy program.  The measure is sponsored by Rep. Rick Boucher, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Lee Terry.

"Today we endorse the Boucher-Terry legislation because we believe it embraces policies to reform and sustain the [Universal Service] Fund, and directs funds to meet the true communications needs of consumers," said Peter Davidson, Verizon senior vice president of federal government relations. "We will continue to work with the sponsors and this committee to ensure the legislation accomplishes the objectives of modernizing the Universal Service program so that it meets the needs of Americans in the 21st century."

Davidson said the draft Universal Service Reform Act "takes us a big step toward addressing five of the most pressing matters: An overall budget for the high-cost fund; a new contribution methodology; competitive bidding for wireless support; a date certain for related reform of intercarrier compensation; and an end to traffic pumping."

"The problem with universal service is not that we spend too little money; it's that we do not spend it on the right services in the right places," Davidson said.  "We cannot put off any longer the tough choices on major issues ... [and] must fix the broken universal service framework before layering on additional priorities." 

He said the Universal Service Fund's contribution factor that determines the amount consumers pay to support the program is already "near an all-time high" and projected to jump to more than 14 percent next year.  "When added to other communications charges and fees, these assessments really hit consumers hard, especially in these economic times. This trend is simply unsustainable," he said.  

"With your leadership and the Universal Service Reform Act we can get the fund on the path of sustainability and focused on meeting the communications needs of our country," Davidson told the House energy and commerce committee.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 89 million customers nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 230,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.