NYT editorial backs USF reform

Calling access to high-speed broadband "the real deficit" in rural parts of the U.S., The New York Times published an editorial Wednesday endorsing the Federal Communications Commission's proposal to redirect the Universal Service Fund towards expanding broadband access.

"The United States urgently needs a better communications network for the 21st century. The F.C.C. plan is a good one. The commissioners should approve it," the editorial states.

The op-ed argues that USF has fulfilled its original mission to provide landline phone service to rural areas and should now be focused on broadband access. The commission is currently accepting public comment on its proposal and will craft final rules to be put to a vote at a later date.

The Times acknowledges concerns from small and medium-sized broadband providers that the new subsidies will upset their business models, but doesn't appear to offer any solutions. The op-ed also notes that large telecom firms like Verizon and AT&T have generally been supportive.

It also praises new conditions that would ensure the funds don't go to projects that cost too much to serve or overlap with existing coverage areas.