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Expanding The Digital Divide & Falling Behind In Broadband: Why A Telecommunications Policy Of Neglect Is Not Benign

Because the FCC has refused to define advanced telecommunications services as telecommunications services, it cannot raise universal service funds from the services or use universal service funds to make high-speed Internet access affordable. The legal divide that the White House and the FCC would like to create between the traditional telecommunications network and the advanced telecommunications networks (between the dial-up Internet and the high-speed Internet) has an even more perverse effect. As upper income households migrate to advanced telecommunications networks, which escape public interest obligations, the pool of resources available to support the narrowband network shrinks and the burden of maintaining the dial up network will increase dramatically. Prices will rise and the quality of service will decline. There are already proposals to raise basic dial-up rates by four dollars per month in charges that telephone services over advanced telecommunications networks would avoid.