• Copyrights, Wireless Consumer Protection, USF Reform Top House Committee's TechComm Agenda
  • March 23, 2009 | Authors: Jennifer L. Richter; Carly T. Didden; Jennifer A. Cetta
  • Law Firm: Patton Boggs LLP - Washington Office
  • Congressman Rick Boucher told Congress Daily that revamping the $7.1 billion Universal Service Fund is his second-highest priority after reauthorizing the law governing copyright licenses for the retransmission of broadcast programming over satellite television systems. Legislation designed to mandate consumer protections for mobile phone customers and to reform USF also lead House Democrats’ communications priorities.

    Boucher has scheduled a March 12 universal service hearing. He and Rep. Lee Terry, R-NE, will introduce a revised version of their comprehensive USF legislation. Previous versions expanded the base of carriers contributing to the fund and extended it to subsidize broadband connections for eligible consumers.

    Boucher has an ambitious communications agenda that will include rigorous oversight of the digital television transition deadline on June 12 and close scrutiny of the $4 billion in stimulus funds to the Commerce Department for competitive grants to spur broadband deployment.

    Boucher said a planned wireless bill may include provisions setting rules for the re-auction of spectrum known as the D-block that would provide first responders with a nationwide, advanced wireless broadband network to bolster emergency communications. Boucher also may introduce an Internet privacy bill with the Subcommittee's Ranking Minority Member, Cliff Stearns, R-FL, sometime this spring. The members have introduced such legislation in the past.