Everyone who owns a telephone pays. A few cents is tacked on to every phone bill every month. It’s listed on those bills as the Universal Service Fund. All those pennies are put into a program called LifeLine to bring quality telephone service to every American.
In 1996 Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which states that all providers of telecommunications services should contribute to federal universal service in some equitable and nondiscriminatory manner. The next year, in 1997, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Universal Service Fund (USF) to meet the goals of the Telecommunications Act just passed.