By Sara Jerome - 02/07/11 04:40 PM EST
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski said on Monday that the agency must make fundamental changes to the Universal Service Fund before it can address the question of who contributes to the program.
"The first focus needs to be on fixing the program and that's what we're going to begin on tomorrow," he said after a speech at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
Before the FCC can take up contributions to the nearly $8 billion program, "the first step is to make sure it's a program that meets its purpose" and "is efficient and targeted," he said.
The commission is expected to begin the process of altering who receives money from the telecom fund at its monthly meeting on Tuesday. The commission will not, however, begin amending who contributes to the fund and how much they pay.
Questions include which service providers pay into the fund and how the amount they have to pay is calculated.
The delay on the contribution overhaul has prompted criticism from some in industry.
"We are disappointed [the FCC is] not dealing with the contribution side of this, but we're still hopeful that it won't be too long in coming," Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior federal regulatory vice president, said during a media briefing last month.