FCC to propose changes to USF and set-top boxes

The Federal Communications Commission has a full plate to tackle at its next open meeting.

In its tentative agenda for the April 21 meeting, the FCC will consider a number of items it has been discussing for the better part of a year. Now that the National Broadband Plan is out, the agency can drill down into some of its key recommendations.

First on the agenda is proposing ways to reform the $8 billion Universal Service Fund to refocus funding toward broadband deployment.

Currently, telephone companies contribute to a fund used to provide basic telephone service to unserved households. The FCC wants to find a way to use some of that money to provide broadband service for unconnected consumers.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the House technology subcommittee, is planning to release a draft bill with his own changes to Universal Service Fund.

The FCC will also consider items to move the ball forward on its recommendation of making set-top boxes and TV sets a gateway for accessing Internet and video content. It plans to formally ask for feedback on ways to use devices to access multi-channel programming. The FCC will also propose changes to set-top box rules.

On the cybersecurity front, the FCC will seek comment on whether it should establish a program under which communications companies would be certified for following certain cybersecurity best practices.

A final agenda will be released in a couple of weeks.