Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

New tax for broadband customers?

Filed under
Web

The suggestions came as lawmakers started debating changes to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which created the framework for the Universal Service Fund, overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.

The USF currently collects a fixed percentage of revenues from long-distance, wireless, pay phone and telephone companies so that it can pass on subsidies to low-income customers, high-cost areas, and rural health care providers, schools and libraries. Most companies come up with their share, set for this quarter at 10.2 percent, by charging their customers a fee.

The USF should continue to be "industry funded," but the base of contributors should be expanded to "all providers of two-way communications, regardless of technology used, to ensure competitive neutrality," a bipartisan coalition of rural legislators said in a June 28 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, which will be drafting the rewrites. That means companies providing broadband services such as VoIP over telephone wires would also have to pay into the fund.

"We need to ensure government policies protect the infrastructure that makes advanced services, including broadband, possible and available to everyone in the United States," said the letter, signed by 62 House members.

"If our residents are to be competitive in today's fast-paced, technology-driven global marketplace, our communities will require affordable high-speed, high-capacity access to data and information over the Internet," Rep. John Peterson, R-Penn., co-chairman of the Congressional Rural Caucus, said at a press conference held the day the letter was released. "If the private sector is either unwilling or unable to provide that service at an affordable price, we'll find a way to provide it for ourselves."

But Randolph May, a senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a market-oriented think tank, said policy-makers should be cautious before making any changes. Broadband access, he said, is getting cheaper and more widely available.

"It's not clear that any subsidies are needed," May said. "But if policy-makers want to provide some subsidies, they should be, in my view, carefully targeted to low-income people that really need them."

The Universal Service Fund in recent years has faced allegations of waste, fraud and abuse. The FCC announced in June a formal inquiry into its management.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Kernel 3.18 development – the kernel column

Linus Torvalds announced Linux 3.17, the Shuffling Zombie Juror, saying, “The past week was fairly calm, and so I have no qualms about releasing 3.17 on the normal schedule”. The latest kernel includes a number of nice headline features, such as the new getrandom() system call and sealed files APIs that we covered in previous issues of LU&D. Linux 3.17 also includes support for less highlighted new features, such as new signature checking of kexec()’d kernel images and sparse files on Samba file systems (which is significant for those mounting Windows and Mac shares). Read more

Qt 5.4 Release Candidate Available

I am happy to announce that Qt 5.4 Release Candidate is now available. After the Qt5.4 Beta release we have done some build & packaging related updates in addition to large number of error fixes based on feedback from Beta release. Read more

Weston's IVI Shell Sees New Version

There hasn't been much in the way of exciting Wayland/Weston developments to report on this month, but its development is continuing in its usual manner. Out today is another version of the Weston IVI Shell as it still works to being accepted upstream. The weston-ivi-shell is a reference shell for Wayland's Weston compositor running on In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems. The Weston-IVI work dates back many months and today's revision to the shell marks its eighth public version as it still seeks to be accepted into mainline Weston. Read more

Python 3 Support Added To The GNOME Shell

The GNOME Shell 3.15.2 release fixes some visual glitching, improves the layout of the extension installation dialog, supports the CSS margin property, and offers other bug fixes and minor enhancements. Most notable to GNOME Shell 3.15.2 though is there's finally Python 3 support. Many GNOME components have long ported their Python 2 code to Python 3 while GNOME Shell's Python support has just received the Py3 treatment. Details on GNOME's overall Python 3 porting work can be found via this Wiki page. Read more