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Bill introduced with reporting requirements for FCC telecom subsidy program

Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia introduced a bill Jan. 10 that would implement performance testing reporting requirements for subsidy recipients of a U.S. Federal Communications Commission program that helps fund voice and broadband services in unserved and high-cost areas. The goal is to boost oversight for the program.

The bill, known as the "Connect America Fund Accountability Act of 2019," would require that any telecommunications carrier that receives funding from the FCC for its Connect America Fund program submit a report to the FCC disclosing testing results, which can include speed and latency tests.

"This legislation institutes specific tools to hold providers accountable for accurate reporting while ensuring households and businesses throughout our rural communities have access to the broadband services required to compete in the 21st-century economy," said Collins in a news release.

Collins also said the bill would increase oversight of the way funds are disbursed in the program because by requiring carriers to submit data, the FCC is expected to have more information to accurately distribute funds for the program.

Among the most recent winners of the FCC's Connect America Fund Phase II auction, which relies on a weighted, competitive bidding process to support universal service, were Verizon Communications Inc., Cincinnati Bell Inc. and Frontier Communications Corp.

The auction will award up to $198 million in annual support through 2028.