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

Leftovers: Gaming

KDE and Akademy

  • Akademy Day 4
    For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest free and open software communities in the world—works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities.
  • KDE Reveals Plasma Mobile
    There are a lot of interesting developments occurring in the field of Linux smartphones right now. With so many different options popping up, fragmentation is a risk, as apps built on one platform fail to migrate to another. KDE's new offering may help to make those apps available to a broader audience.
  • PSA: Plasma Mobile forums have moved

Red Hat and Fedora

Android Leftovers