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posted by janrinok on Saturday October 24 2015, @06:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the fine-them dept.

Internet service providers who accept government funding in exchange for providing Internet access in rural areas were "reminded" this week that they're not allowed to use the money for food, alcohol, entertainment, personal travel, and other expenses unrelated to providing Internet access.

The Federal Communications Commission issued a public notice with a "non-exhaustive list of expenditures" that cannot be reimbursed. The list includes all of the above as well as political contributions, charitable donations, scholarships, payment of penalties and fines, club membership fees, sponsorships of conferences and community events, gifts to employees, and personal expenses of employees and family members "including but not limited to personal expenses for housing, such as rent or mortgages."

The ban on using subsidies for food includes but is "not limited to meals to celebrate personal events, such as weddings, births, or retirements," the FCC said.

This money comes from the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is paid for by Americans through fees imposed on phone bills.

Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O'Rielly wrote that while "the vast number of providers" would not take advantage of the system, "there are unfortunate examples to the contrary and spending on outrageous items has occurred."


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 25 2015, @02:31AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 25 2015, @02:31AM (#254205)

    The good news is that there's a "vast number of providers": they haven't, yet, all been bought by AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast. I doubt it's these oceans of government hooch that are keeping that from happening, but if it were, I'd tell those telecoms to continue partying heartily.

    The memo gives an example of one company which received a $242 million subsidy to serve 3659 customers from 2002 until, I assume, the present. That works out to around $66,000 per customer or $5100 per customer per year. What if the largesse had been given directly to those telecom customers to do what they pleased with it: move to a place with better telecommunications, spend it on satellite phone service, start a CLEC of their own, or just throw themselves a party? If school vouchers can work, so could that.

    I like the way the commissioners wrote "the question is why the FCC has turned a blind eye to such conduct for so long." I also like the decision they made the other day, limiting the rates for prison phone calls:

    http://www.engadget.com/2015/10/23/fcc-caps-prison-telephone-rates/ [engadget.com]

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/fcc-votes-to-cut-cost-of-phone-calls-for-inmates-1445569620 [wsj.com]

    http://www.ibtimes.com/private-prison-executives-say-new-fcc-phone-regulations-will-put-lives-danger-2154094 [ibtimes.com]