Universal Service Fund

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A central principle of the Communications Act of 1934 was that all Americans should have access to a basic level of telecommunications service—universal service—and many policies were enacted to carryout that goal. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 created the Universal Service Fund, a pool of money collected from telecommunications companies and used for building and maintaining telecommunications infrastructure and services in high-cost areas. Four programs are supported by the Fund: the High-Cost Program, Lifeline Program, Rural Health Care Program, and Schools and Libraries Program.Telecommunications companies may charge a Universal Service Fund fee back to customers to help recover some of their contribution to the program.

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