Cell phone users should contribute to fund

Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 12:21 a.m.
The article "Cell phone subsidies enrich telecoms," (Jan. 14) perpetuates a myth about cell phones that warrants clarification.
In criticizing how cell phone revenues are assessed for contributions to the federal Universal Service Fund to support telephone networks in rural areas, the article assumes that wireless calls depend only on a wireless network. Not true.
Virtually every wireless phone call traverses the landline network after it is received through a cell tower. This occurs whether a landline number or a cell phone user is called; the landline network provides underlying transportation capacity for all calls, including wireless. Without the landline network, wireless calls would simply drop off of towers and never reach their destination.
The article charges that landline phone companies benefit unfairly from Universal Service Fund payments. The reality is that the amount traditional landline telephone companies receive from the federal Universal Service Fund is decreasing (down $70 million from 2005-2006), while support to wireless telephone companies is growing - an increase of about $322 million during that time period.
The bottom line is clear: all phone users depend on a highly integrated landline and wireless network, and those who use that network should contribute to its upkeep and expansion through the Universal Service Fund.
Jeffrey S. Leslie, Vice President/Chief Financial Officer, ITS Telecommunications Systems, Inc.
Indiantown, FL

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