Only The Federal Government Would Try To Expand Broadband Internet Service By Taxing It
The FCC wants to fund a new subsidy set up for broadband internet access by implementing a new tax on broadband internet access. Because nothing says “accessibility” like increased expense due to taxation.
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.
As you might imagine, many big internet players like AT&T, Sprint and Google are for the subsidy either because a) they’ll receive the subsidy directly to build out infrastructure or b) they’re like Google and have such a larger internet presence that they’ll benefit from any expansion of internet access.
But this is about as counter-intuitive a policy as you could imagine. We’ve going to promote use of broadband internet by making it more expensive with taxation?
And the idea that we need to subsidize broadband internet access is ridiculous. Internet access among Americans has been growing by leaps and bounds, and while that growth has been slow in rural areas where a paucity of potential subscribers makes building the infrastructure to serve them something less than profitable, new technologies such as satellite and cellular-based internet services are growing quickly to fill the void.
Put simply, this is a problem the free market will solve on its own. What the government is looking for is an excuse to get their foot in the door to tax and regulate the internet, and there is some precedent for this. In another age the issue was not rural broadband but rural electrification. Power was making its way into rural communities, but the government (led by Franklin Roosevelt and others in the era’s progressive movement) thought it needed to move faster.
Except, it was never really about access but control. The rural electrification policies of that era set the state for the heavily-regulated, entirely government-controlled utility markets we know today.
The government wants to turn internet access, a vibrant and thriving market, into just another government-controlled utility.Tags: fcc, internet, Taxes