… in receiving support from the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund.
In case you missed it, on December 31 the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service issued its 2009 Universal Service Monitoring Report. This 568 page report compiles a massive number of statistics on the Federal Communications Commission’s $7.6 billion Universal Service Fund. This fund subsidizes phone service in high-cost areas, phone subscriptions for low-income households, Internet service for schools and libraries, and Internet connections for rural health care facilities. About 60 percent of the money — $4.4 billion — goes to “high cost” (usually rural) phone companies.
The money comes from the universal service charge on your wired, wireline, or VOIP phone bill. (That’s why the phone companies put the FCC’s phone number on the bill, so you can call the FCC if you have questions about this charge. Isn’t that thoughtful!)
Virtually every table in the Monitoring Report is fascinating. But check out some of the statistics to the right, which came from Table 1.12. After substracting the universal service charges paid by its citizens, Mississippi received the highest net amount from the Universal Service Fund — $258 million. Alaska, Puerto Rico, Kansas, and Oklahoma round out the top five net recipients.
Some states are net payers. Florida paid $304 million more into the Universal Service Fund than its phone companies, low-income consumers, schools, libraries, and rural health facilities received back. Not surprisingly, other big, high-income states with large urban areas are also big net payers.
Some states receive close to what they pay in. Although Texas is a big Universal Service Fund recipient ($511 million in 2008), Texas telephone customers also pay a lot into the fund ($508 million in 2008). Thus, Texas received a net $3 million from the Universal Service Fund. Other states close to breakeven are Arizona, Missouri, Oregon, and South Carolina.
For 2008, I counted 22 states that are net recipients of $15 million or more, and 23 states that are net payers of $23 million or more.
And you thought you had fun on New Year’s Eve!