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Dueling Universal Service, National Broadband Plan events

Monday had dueling events about Universal Service Funding and the National Broadband plan.  I opted to check out my buddy Craig Settles take on author of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, Blair Levin in a “Meet the Press” type debate.  Up the street, at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was discussing and taking questions on the 250 page Universal Service Reform NPRM that was to be released the next day (Tuesday).

During the speech, Genachowski outlined proposed rules, he said would make the $4.3 billion USF high-cost fund more accountable and efficient while gradually shifting it to broadband funding.  The plan is slated to phase out the complex process of Intercarrier Comp, which forces larger carriers to help subsidize smaller and more rural operators by paying them to terminate calls.

Back at our event, Settles argued that cities, towns, municipalities and local governments ought to be permitted to provide their own broadband solutions when the private sector opted to bypass their communities. Levin was of the position that such an option would be fine but the challenge would be finding the funding to subsidize or create fiber rings or wireless broadband solutions for those local jurisdictions.

The chat held at the New America Foundation and hosted by GigaOm called Two Perspectives on the National Broadband Plan between Craig Settles, a broadband industry analyst, and Blair Levin, chief architect of the National Broadband Plan, on the plan’s merits was moderated by  Wall Street Journal’s Amy Schatz and GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham. A recording is available here or below.

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