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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Formulaic approach likely

Well, my perusal of the FCC's NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) finally reached the comments by the commissioners. The comments are always full of fluff like "I fully support this important program," but sometimes they also give you a peek behind the curtain.

What peek do we get this time? The only thing Chairman Martin said (besides "blah blah blah fully support blah blah blah operational efficiency blah blah blah") was: "This type of formulaic approach may hold promise for improving the administration of the E-Rate." So the new idea of giving applicants a lump sum based on size seems to have come from the new Chairman.

Commissioner Copps' statement has two paragraphs, and zeroes in on the E-Rate, saying nothing about the other Universal Service programs. The first paragraph lists the proposals that he supports: simplifying applications, multi-year applications, more debarments. The second paragraph lays out his opposition to the formulaic funding approach, and pleads with those who would be negatively affected by formulaic funding to send in comments.

Comissioner Adelstein takes a bit longer to get around to it, but eventually lays out his position: support for strengthening debarment and streamlining applications, and his opposition to formulaic funding.

So the Republican Chairman supports formulaic funding, the two Democratic commissioners oppose it, and the other Republican commissioner is silent. Which says to me, if you don't want formulaic funding, you'd better answer Commissioner Copps' appeal and make your voice heard.

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