Broadband internet tax in the works

Should those who enjoy broadband internet service be required to subsidize those who don't?

The big internet companies think it's a swell idea. And why not? Forcing the taxpayer to bear the financial burden of broadband expansion is better than them having to pay for the infrastructure.

The FCC is going ahead with this idea - mostly under the congressional radar.

The Hill:

The Federal Communications Commission is eyeing a proposal to tax broadband Internet service.

The move would funnel money to the Connect America Fund, a subsidy the agency created last year to expand Internet access.

The FCC issued a request for comments on the proposal in April. Dozens of companies and trade associations have weighed in, but the issue has largely flown under the public's radar.

"If members of Congress understood that the FCC is contemplating a broadband tax, they'd sit up and take notice," said Derek Turner, research director for Free Press, a consumer advocacy group that opposes the tax.

Numerous companies, including AT&T, Sprint and even Google have expressed support for the idea.

Consumers already pay a fee on their landline and cellular phone bills to support the FCC's Universal Service Fund. The fund was created to ensure that everyone in the country has access to telephone service, even if they live in remote areas.

Last year, the FCC overhauled a $4.5 billion portion of the Universal Service Fund and converted it into a broadband Internet subsidy, called the Connect America Fund. The new fund aims to subsidize the construction of high-speed Internet networks to the estimated 19 million Americans who currently lack access.

The FCC had no business taking money from a fund dedicated to expand phone service and creating a broadband internet subsidy. Eventually, satellite internet will be able to fill the gap, but current technology presents problems with latency (the delay between requesting data and the receipt of a response) and the general unreliability of the signal due to weather. But in a few years, many of those problems will be overcome and satellite internet will become a viable option -- at a much cheaper price.

Creating another tax to subsidize internet expansion for large companies is unnecessary and will only lead to greater control of the internet by government.

Congress should wake up and nix this effort before it gets started.

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