That cell phone service is a right, and not a privilege? http://www.wirelessforhope.org/index.html Wireless For Hope was created by Affordable Wireless, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved the company to offer Lifeline -- a public assistance program that ensures telephone service is available and affordable for low-income subscribers. Wireless For Hope applies the Universal Service Fund subsidy to an allotment of free airtime minutes and Affordable Wireless provides the wireless handset at the company's expense. What is the Universal Service Fund subsidy? I went to the FCC website for the “truth!” See: http://www.fcc.gov/wcb/tapd/universal_service/ Universal Service Request USF Ex Parte Meeting The goals of Universal Service, as mandated by the 1996 Act, are to: Promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable and affordable rates for all consumers Increase nationwide access to advanced telecommunications services Advance the availability of such services to all consumers, including those in low income, rural, insular, and high cost areas at rates that are reasonably comparable to those charged in urban areas Increase access to telecommunications and advanced services in schools, libraries and rural health care facilities Provide equitable and non-discriminatory contributions from all providers of telecommunications services to the fund supporting universal service programs The Commission established four programs to fulfill these goals. They are: The High-Cost program The Low Income program, including initiatives for Native Americans The Schools and Libraries program, commonly referred to as E-rate The Rural Health Care program These programs are funded by the Universal Service Fund. Telecommunications providers must contribute to the fund through an assessment on their interstate and international revenues. The Commission appointed the Universal Service Administrative Company, or USAC, to administer the four programs and the Universal Service Fund. Detailed statistical information about the Universal Service Fund is available in the annual Monitoring Report. OK, this sounds fair, but how does this make cell phone service a RIGHT?? IT DOESN’T!! Furthermore, a watchdog group has this to say about the Universal Service Fund: http://www.capthefund.org/learnabout.cfm Runaway spending on the "high-cost" portion of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) phone tax have caused it to skyrocket from $2.2 billion in 1999 to about $4 billion in 2006. The overall USF tax has surged to $7 billion, up from less than $4 billion in 1998. To pay for the Universal Service Fund, the tax rate applied to long distance revenues has skyrocketed five-fold from 2.1 percent to its current level of just under 11 percent. Unwary U.S. taxpayers pay up to $13,345 per telephone line per year for federally subsidized phone service under the U.S. government's steep USF phone bill tax. (See Thomas W. Hazlett, "Universal Service" Telephone Subsidies: What Does $7 Billion Buy," study for The Seniors Coalition, June 2006, http://www.senior.org/Documents/USF.Master.6.13.06.pdf.) Rather than providing phone service to low-income consumers in need, the bulk of USF taxpayer dollars are now part of a multi-billion wealth-transfer that goes from the pockets of U.S. taxpayers to small, uneconomical private rural telephone companies that often have only a few hundred customers and are so engorged with tax dollars that they can afford to pay out more in dividends to shareholders than they actually charge for phone service. Increasingly, USF funds are also flowing to large wireless companies that provide what is often purely duplicative service competing with unsubsidized service providers. So our tax dollars are going to a program to make sure everyone has a cell phone! What’s wrong with this picture??? This must be part of the new FCC regulations that were recently put into place.