Wicker Seeks Information on FCC Program Supporting Rural and Underserved Communities

March 2, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel requesting information regarding the full funding capabilities that the FCC has at its disposal for the agency’s Universal Service Fund (USF) program. The USF program is a user-fee-based support program that subsidizes broadband and telephone services in high-cost areas for low-income households, schools and libraries, and rural health-care facilities.

Excerpt from the letter to Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel: 

Over the past year, the coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on the U.S. economy and on Americans’ daily lives. Stay-at-home orders have made closing the digital divide all the more urgent as Americans now depend more on the internet to engage economically and socially.  

I welcome the FCC’s ongoing work to keep Americans connected amid this pandemic, particularly in rural and underserved communities. As I evaluate the USF for the upcoming congressional session, I am requesting information regarding the full funding capabilities that the FCC has at its disposal.

Please provide a detailed status of funds report for all USF accounts, including but not limited to the Connect America Fund (CAF), Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers, E-Rate - Schools & Libraries Program, and the Rural Health Care Program. This report should clearly identify the amount of funds currently available, committed, or obligated.  For obligated funds, please detail all open obligations, including partial obligations, regardless of the fiscal year in which they were appropriated or obligated. I request that this report be made available to my staff no later than March 9, 2021. 

Click here to read the full letter.