The Federal Communications Commission met Nov. 18 to discuss obstacles to enacting a national broadband policy that will provide high-speed internet access to every American, CNET reports. A task force, headed by Blair Levin, who had been chief of staff for former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, is developing the plan that will be presented to Congress on Feb. 17. Levin and his staff appeared before the FCC to present what they see as obstacles that must be overcome to develop clear recommendations for universal broadband. One major issue has to do with the Universal Service Fund, a program funded through extra charges on consumers’ phone bills. The USF originally was designed to provide subsidies to pay for phone service in rural communities. But the task force believes that more of the $7 billion that is allocated each year from the fund should be used to help subsidize the cost of deploying broadband in rural areas. The task force also reported that there is still a high level of disparity in income levels between people who subscribe to broadband service and those who do not. Another issue is the fact that broadband service providers tend to favor higher-income regions in more populated areas over low-income areas. The data suggest that many low-income people in these parts of the country are offered only one broadband service option, and they tend to pay higher prices for service. On the wireless side, the key barrier is a lack of spectrum, the task force said…

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