Though it remains unclear how much it will be...
As we noted back in March
, our new national broadband plan involves reconfiguring the Universal Service Fund (USF) so that money paid into it is put toward broadband expansion (currently the funds only address school broadband and rural phone connectivity). Granted this will result in higher bills for broadband users, who'll be asked to pay into this plan. The FCC's plan annoyingly omits how much this "Connections" tax will be -- though analysts believe
it could range from anywhere between $1-$5 a month. While details remain unclear, we're just starting to see the front-end of a wave of complaints from those who already feel overtaxed
No one really believes government wants to create this big tax to help this small problem, said Jason Williams with the Taxpayer Foundation of Oregon. They see the big taxes for the big money." But Scott McClure, the city manager of the city of Monmouth, said its necessary to help small communities like his. "I think its part of a greater cause," he said. "Thats how we did phone service. Thats how phone service was taken care of in this country - through the universal service fund: People pay a little bit more to help the rural areas."
Again though, nobody knows what this tax will be -- because the FCC is only just starting to reconfigure the USF. That's no easy task -- and skeptics have reason to worry about how that money is going to be used. The USF has a long history of poor oversight
, and the nation's regulators have an even longer history of failing to ensure that telecom subsidies (or tax breaks
) actually result in substantive infrastructure improvements. Industry giants AT&T and Verizon have been lobbying for several years for a bigger chunk of USF funds -- and Uncle Sam obviously isn't very good at standing up to such massive campaign contributors.
In other words? The FCC has a lot to prove with their USF reform agenda.