Island Internet Service and the Federal Universal Service Fund

I’ve complained about our internet service for quite some time and I’m starting to see the root of the problem.  I just learned about the “Federal Universal Service Fund” that is applied to all phone bills… including CELL PHONE BILLS:

Yes... $1.35 each month!!!

Puna is a rural district here on the Big Island and quite frankly it would cost too much to get us up to speed like the rest of the civilization.

I myself am still having sporadic service and I never know when I turn my computer on whether I will have service or not.

The Washington Times posted the following article: Internet Island Plugs into politcs… Taxpayers on the hook for rural high-speed bailout where it states:

…The Universal Service Fund (USF) is that pesky tax on your phone bill that subsidizes connections for rural or lower-income households. The multibillion-dollar fund has caught enormous flak over the years for waste, fraud and abuse. And amid an ongoing and much-needed debate in Congress on how to reform the USF, the Federal Communications Commission is set to rule any day on the future of one small, politically connected company that built its entire business around receiving these taxpayer funds.

Back in 1995, Sandwich Isles Communications Inc. won a no-bid contract from Hawaii to be the exclusive provider of telecom service on the Hawaiian homelands for native Hawaiians. Soon after, the company secured a $400 million low-interest, taxpayer-backed loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service. When the Agriculture Department program suspended funding a few years later, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) quietly ruled in May 2005 that Sandwich Isles was eligible to receive up to $400 million in federal USF support…

…Sandwich Isles is poised to go into bankruptcy if the FCC doesn’t approve its Hawaii high-speed bailout. But an FCC decision that pours more taxpayer money into the company would continue this anti-free-market trend. Virtually all of the few customers Sandwich Isles serves can switch to other mobile or satellite broadband options…

More Here

Do I expect Puna to get decent internet speeds anytime soon… no.  Have I thought about switching to a mobile or satellite plan… yes.  But I will still have to pay that damn Universal Service Fund and in some folks case we pay more then once for multiple phones and a land line.

4 Responses

  1. I recently read an article that Hawaii received a $36 million grant to improve broadband across the state. Look at Mobi PCS for a better Hawaii internet service? Internet service is getting better for Hawaii.

  2. Does Oceanic not service your area? Had thm for 2 years so far and very few issues.

    • They do… and that’s what we have… and it sucks! No matter how many times I have called. We continue to have problems in our entire block of houses that live in this neighborhood… and many of us have repeatedly called.

  3. The biggest recipient of USF funding is Sandwich Isles Communications (The de facto telephone company serving DHHL lands). Mobi, Sprint NexTel and possibly in the future T-Mobile also receive USF money to serve DHHL lands.

    This is because DHHL lands are considered under served. Non-DHHL lands are not considered underserved since 90% of population resides on Oahu. So, Hawaiian Telcom has failed to obtain similar funding.

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