In 1997, after the Legislature created the NUSF, the Commission opened an investigation and began its quest to meet the universal service obligations of the new environment. Results from the 2000 U.S. Census, indicate over 84% of Nebraska’s households reside in an area of less than 730 square miles, less than 1% of the landmass of the entire state. Nearly 16% of Nebraska’s households are spread over more than 74,000 square miles. Providing service to households in the rural, sparsely populated areas of Nebraska has a significant cost.
In 1999, based on the findings of its investigation, the Commission implemented a multi-year transitional mechanism to reform intercarrier compensation and establish funding from NUSF. The Commission entered an order in 2001 seeking comment on a method to determine permanent funding from NUSF Nebraska ETCs, while accomplishing the policy goals of universal service. In 2002, the Commission adopted goals for the NUSF long-term support mechanism.
The mechanism is funded via a surcharge applied to end user telecommunications services. For residential services, the surcharge is assessed on a per connection basis, at $1.75 per connection. For business services, the surcharge is a flat 6.95 percent assessment on all retail end user in-state services. The Commission, through its NUSF-100 and NUSF-111 proceedings, made the determination to change the residential assessment to a per connection basis starting with the April 2019 billing period. The surcharges apply to all intrastate telecommunications services, including local telephone service, mobile wireless and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services. These surcharges provide the funds necessary to support high cost areas throughout the State of Nebraska and ensure service remains affordable.