FCC interested in taxing broadband Internet

The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal to tax broadband Internet service, reports The Hill. The funds raised by the proposed tax would be used to expand access to high-speed Internet for the estimated 19 million Americans who do not have broadband.

This is not exactly fresh news, as the FCC issued a request for comments on the proposal in April of 2012. However, as The Hill notes, the proposed tax has gone largely unnoticed in the public perception, even though dozens of companies and trade associations have already voiced their opinions on the matter. Companies including AT&T, Sprint and Google have expressed support for the tax.

The tax would supplement the Connect America Fund, which is a subsidy of the FCC with the goal of expanding Internet access in America. A similar Universal Service Fund exists, which ensures that even those in the remotest areas of the country have access to telephone service. Consumers contribute to the Universal Service Fund via fees on landline and cellular phone bills.

In 2011, the FCC converted $4.5 billion of the Universal Service Fund to create the Connect America Fund. Because fewer and fewer people are using phone services, contributions to the Universal Service Fund, and as a result the Connect America Fund, are drying up. Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, believes that expanding high-speed Internet access is the next great infrastructure challenge, so funds must be raised somehow.

The Hill points out that the proposed tax could run afoul of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, the 1998 law that bans the government from taxing Internet access. The FCC argues that this would not be a tax, but a "fee" that the providers choose to pass onto the consumers.

As for a timeline on the tax, it is believed that the FCC will probably not make any drastic, controversial moves ahead of the election in November.

Source: The Hill

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ok.. all those who oppose the internet tax should grab their internet bill and throw it in their nearest largest body of water. we will call this the internet tax ban party. or LAN party.

Here in NZ we have whats called the RBI or rural broadband initiative where the GOVT pays to have high speed BB to a school and if you within 2Kms of that school you can also be connected to it aswell... Now I know the distances for outback US is vast but it could use something like this

but if it's for say one or two houses that are 200Kms away from nowhere then it seems a little stupid and a cost that will never be recouped there are much better ways to get BB out to those types of areas wireless or satellite for example

Why is it this comes up every couple of years?
Is it MY fault that some people want to live in the middle of BFE? Why should I subsidize their internet because they want to live in the middle of no where? If where these people live, were a PROFITABLE option (oh no! that evil capitalist word...PROFIT), a carrier would run the connections to them, but, it isn't, so here comes the nanny state in the form of the imperialist federal government telling those that have access to broadband that because you are "fortunate" to live in an area covered by broadband, we are going to take money from you, and give it to those that live in the middle of nowhere, so they can have internet access. More nanny state, more socialist agenda BS.

If you have broadband Internet, then you're privileged and are perfectly capable of paying for the less privileged to have the same level of service. It's all about fairness.

This is another way to rob tax paying citizens while the rich get rich with free money from tax dollars backed by an excuse. Sadly, we will all stand by and do nothing while it happens.

BillyJack said,
This is another way to rob tax paying citizens while the rich get rich with free money from tax dollars backed by an excuse. Sadly, we will all stand by and do nothing while it happens.

People won't do NOTHING. They'll do all sorts of things.

Like inform themselves with discussion boards and Reddit instead of books, Wikipedia, and articles by experts.

Like gripe about the quality of roads while never voting in anything but a national election.

Like preach to the choir instead of engaging people with different perspectives and have meaningful conversations without personal attacks.

Like only ever finally getting motivated when some useless demonstration is planned (blackout, rally, boycott, whatever) instead of making any lasting changes in one's own personal behavior.

See? Lots.

Of course, as soon as those 19M ppl have access to this particular speed of internet the FCC will no longer tax broadband. Right?

5% of this country doesnt have access to the FCC's definition of High Speed Internet "fixed broadband of 3 Mbps download and 768 kbps upload." That means they could have 2.9Mbps down and 767kbps up but we need to tax every single broadband consumer in the country to make sure they get better service.

How the f*ck is this my problem and why the f*ck should I be required to pay for it.

Wait. Lets see if I got this right.
The proposed tax money collected will be used to "expand" the infrastructures of broadband providers such as AT&T, Sprint, etc... So they can us this money to build there network to reach new customers who will pay them a monthly fee for service?
My answer is No.
The providers should do this themselves? In business It's called taking a risk and reinvesting profit back into the company to build out your network, to reach new revenues.
If providers want to reach new customers, fine. I understand that. But why would the government get involved. Leave this to the companies.
There is no "social" necessity to provide broadband to all citizens.
Sorry I just see greed and laziness in this proposal. Greed from the wasted overhead the fund will need to be maintained, and laziness on the providers who don't want to be real businessmen and work out a financial plan to pay for the expansion from there profits.


shinji257 said,
I'm fine with it as long as the money is actually used for expansion and not to give others free internet service.

I agree with this stance.. I don't mind they use it to expand but right now expansion is horrible certainly in rural area's.

shinji257 said,
I'm fine with it as long as the money is actually used for expansion and not to give others free internet service.
Well then, keep dreaming.

sava700 said,

I agree with this stance.. I don't mind they use it to expand but right now expansion is horrible certainly in rural area's.


I'm curious. Why does this a) bother you and more importantly b) should *everyone* be required to pay for it.

How about those who care can donate to an FCC fund to pay for this rather than tax everybody in the entire country?

More importantly do you think, once the expansion is complete, they will no longer tax broadband access?

Cyborg_X said,
Obama-care for the internet. Just what our economy needs.

This doesn't provide anyone with Internet. It allows for the system to be expanded to allow those who want to PAY for internet to actually have it.

It's making it available, not providing it.


Geez...half the people commenting didn't even read the article...must be a day that ends in Y.

Cyborg_X said,
Obama-care for the internet. Just what our economy needs.

This is the UCF pulled into the internet arena. I am certain that we had the UCF for landlines far longer than Obama has been President.

But whatever floats your boat...

Shane Nokes said,

This doesn't provide anyone with Internet. It allows for the system to be expanded to allow those who want to PAY for internet to actually have it.

It's making it available, not providing it.


Geez...half the people commenting didn't even read the article...must be a day that ends in Y.


It subsidizes the costs for them. There is no free lunch.

DClark said,

It subsidizes the costs for them. There is no free lunch.

Where does it say that it subsidizes the cost of service? This is purely a subsidy to help pay for the roll-out of the services to areas where it's not available. Read the actual story...

Unbelievably asinine idea, especially how they mention trying to get around a law that prevents this sort of practice.

American government never ceases to surprise me with its arrogance and stupidity.

What's next? Food tax returning? Oh wait, some states still have it! *sigh*

Many of the current people in power need to be removed from office. The entire government system needs a reform. I can only wonder how long it will be until that happens, if ever.

Great.. just what we need another USF fund like we have now on landlines... which the money just gets hoarded by the larger telco's and nothing really happens with...

So...you want to raise my taxes to pay for something the cable company should be installing themselves? I could understand it if I were to get a lower monthly cable bill in the future since the cable company would get more customers and income - all courtesy of us tax payers.

why don't they stop with the insanely high salaries and bonuses and spend money on fixing/improving upon their own business? Leave the taxpayers alone.

Wow some of the posts in here are already amazingly off the charts weird...

This is basically stating that they feel it should be a basic item, like a phone. The work is to make it possible for people to have it...not to just give it to them.

In other words to expand the existing lines so that everyone can get it if the want it. There are still tons of places where it's not even an option. This isn't for a handout, but to better equip the entire country for a roll-out.

I find it funny that a ton of people are talking about how we're not investing in America...then when we talk about investing in America they get upset.

Shane Nokes said,
Wow some of the posts in here are already amazingly off the charts weird...

This is basically stating that they feel it should be a basic item, like a phone. The work is to make it possible for people to have it...not to just give it to them.

In other words to expand the existing lines so that everyone can get it if the want it. There are still tons of places where it's not even an option. This isn't for a handout, but to better equip the entire country for a roll-out.

I find it funny that a ton of people are talking about how we're not investing in America...then when we talk about investing in America they get upset.

The problem is that the raised money would be given to AT&T and the other, usual, cronies which would use it to update their networks using taxpayer money....... and then charge users more and more because........ they had to improve the infrastructures........

It is like the money taxpayers give to the Pentagon: taxpayers money is then used to pay Haliburton and Co. which overcharge for any service as they did in Iraq.

But when every representative on capitol Hill depends on big companies for re-election and future employement..... there is no escape.

Fritzly said,

The problem is that the raised money would be given to AT&T and the other, usual, cronies which would use it to update their networks using taxpayer money....... and then charge users more and more because........ they had to improve the infrastructures........

It is like the money taxpayers give to the Pentagon: taxpayers money is then used to pay Haliburton and Co. which overcharge for any service as they did in Iraq.

But when every representative on capitol Hill depends on big companies for re-election and future employement..... there is no escape.

We could do it like the old days when America was attempting to get out of the depression. The government says "hey, here's a great idea: lets build/renew our nations infrastructure". They pay citizens to do jobs - like laying fiber (or whatever the base transmission mode should be). Then every company who needs to use those lines can. If those companies need more lines put down then they can do it themselves. Think of it in terms of all the highways that were built back then. From there, local taxes - not federal - are collected in order to improve or maintain those lines.

Now you have a national internet backbone that almost all Americans have access too, the burden is off the federal government, and people have jobs since it doesn't take a degree to lay lines in a ditch. For jobs requiring skills, well you simply hire people with those skills.

Shane Nokes said,
Wow some of the posts in here are already amazingly off the charts weird...

This is basically stating that they feel it should be a basic item, like a phone. The work is to make it possible for people to have it...not to just give it to them.

In other words to expand the existing lines so that everyone can get it if the want it. There are still tons of places where it's not even an option. This isn't for a handout, but to better equip the entire country for a roll-out.

I find it funny that a ton of people are talking about how we're not investing in America...then when we talk about investing in America they get upset.


That's just it. Their definition of broadband may not be available to those 19M ppl but there is internet and high speed internet.

This is not investing in america. This is politicians investing in votes. We are a nation of 350M ppl 5% of us don't have their definition of high speed internet.

More importantly. It's not investing. Nobody is risking their capital to gain profits or endure losses. This is redistribution of capital from one party to another for political gains.

How is it my problem that 5% of the population doesn't have access to internet that is high speed enough for the FCC. It is was an economically needed service it would be delievered.

Quit playing charity with my money.

KCRic said,
We could do it like the old days when America was attempting to get out of the depression. The government says "hey, here's a great idea: lets build/renew our nations infrastructure". They pay citizens to do jobs - like laying fiber (or whatever the base transmission mode should be). Then every company who needs to use those lines can. If those companies need more lines put down then they can do it themselves. Think of it in terms of all the highways that were built back then. From there, local taxes - not federal - are collected in order to improve or maintain those lines.

Now you have a national internet backbone that almost all Americans have access too, the burden is off the federal government, and people have jobs since it doesn't take a degree to lay lines in a ditch. For jobs requiring skills, well you simply hire people with those skills.


I hate to break it to you but we already have a national internet. There is no need to lay a fiber line into the middle of nowhere montana for a town of 300 to have 10gbps up and down. If those areas want internet they can get it. It just isn't up to the high speed standards of the FCC.

Seriously, 5% of the population. That's it. 5 Percent. That means 95% do have access to their very high speed internet... 300+million people.

MrHumpty said,

I hate to break it to you but we already have a national internet. There is no need to lay a fiber line into the middle of nowhere montana for a town of 300 to have 10gbps up and down. If those areas want internet they can get it. It just isn't up to the high speed standards of the FCC.

Seriously, 5% of the population. That's it. 5 Percent. That means 95% do have access to their very high speed internet... 300+million people.

So if "just" 5% of the population does not have the same kind of medical facilities available..... it is all right because it does not make sense..... financially.
there is a difference between a privately held company and what the government goals are: the former exist to generate profits, the latter to ensure the well being of the citizens. And before someone starts crying about "Socialism" a re-reading or a reading of Plato's master "The Republic" could enlighten a lot of people about this subject.

KCRic said,
We could do it like the old days when America was attempting to get out of the depression. The government says "hey, here's a great idea: lets build/renew our nations infrastructure". They pay citizens to do jobs - like laying fiber (or whatever the base transmission mode should be). Then every company who needs to use those lines can. If those companies need more lines put down then they can do it themselves. Think of it in terms of all the highways that were built back then. From there, local taxes - not federal - are collected in order to improve or maintain those lines.

Now you have a national internet backbone that almost all Americans have access too, the burden is off the federal government, and people have jobs since it doesn't take a degree to lay lines in a ditch. For jobs requiring skills, well you simply hire people with those skills.

We could indeed if all our politicians were not in bed with big companies.......

Shane Nokes said,
Wow some of the posts in here are already amazingly off the charts weird...

This is basically stating that they feel it should be a basic item, like a phone. The work is to make it possible for people to have it...not to just give it to them.

In other words to expand the existing lines so that everyone can get it if the want it. There are still tons of places where it's not even an option. This isn't for a handout, but to better equip the entire country for a roll-out.

I find it funny that a ton of people are talking about how we're not investing in America...then when we talk about investing in America they get upset.

Do you realize that at least half of those money will end up in somebody pocket? You forgetting, FCC is government agency.

Fritzly said,

So if "just" 5% of the population does not have the same kind of medical facilities available..... it is all right because it does not make sense..... financially..

There is a difference between medical care and having high speed internet - you're over reaching.

astropheed said,

There is a difference between medical care and having high speed internet - you're over reaching.

Not at all. These days the Internet is considered a basic social service on the same basis as medical care & telephone service.

As stated, when people shout socialism I always laugh when I realize they don't even know what a Democratic Republic is...heh

Of course the FCC would want to do something like this, it's stupid!

Why not do something useful like limit the what monopolies like AT&T/Verizon/Comcast, etc. can do and not do?

Who's going to monitor that money to make it goes where it's supposed to go and then who's going to monitor who ever monitors that?

Why is the focus on broadband?.
hang on a minute here, what about all the other problems in america. the tax money can towards something else.

AND also, what about that google project with 1GB?
are they just trying to keep everyone in control and think they run and own everything?
they want the power... but don't be greedy, who is the fcc anyway?, no needs the fcc. scrap the fcc and get half a billion a year extra. no need for the fcc.

why can't the tax money go towards something else?
or just make something like mini-coke "on the go" (more effective than nicotine)

EdenHerman said,
Why is the focus on broadband?.
hang on a minute here, what about all the other problems in america. the tax money can towards something else.

AND also, what about that google project with 1GB?
are they just trying to keep everyone in control and think they run and own everything?
they want the power... but don't be greedy, who is the fcc anyway?, no needs the fcc. scrap the fcc and get half a billion a year extra. no need for the fcc.

why can't the tax money go towards something else?
or just make something like mini-coke "on the go" (more effective than nicotine)

I'll be back with a real response to that as soon as I figure out what in the hell you're even saying. I do get the FCC part at least. They do need to disappear.

KCRic said,
I'll be back with a real response to that as soon as I figure out what in the hell you're even saying. I do get the FCC part at least. They do need to disappear.

sorry for bad English i'm French .

KCRic said,
I'll be back with a real response to that as soon as I figure out what in the hell you're even saying. I do get the FCC part at least. They do need to disappear.

sorry for bad English i'm French .

myxomatosis said,
So basically, i will be paying my Internet bill, and my neighbors' internet bill?... Are we ****ing communists?

Depends on how you look at it. You could be pedantic enough and argue that all governments that tax are communism because tax dollars pay for services that benefit all citizens whether or not you ever take advantage of them.

But we don't make claims like that, because that's silly, and we wouldn't deserve to be taken seriously. That isn't communism, this isn't communism, and much of what people accuse of being communism isn't even close to it. We have this great, easy-to-read thing called Wikipedia nowadays, and it's very, VERY easy to be informed thanks to it and sources we can research ourselves.

On topic, this sort of tax should be totally okay for everyone who supports that ridiculous internet bill of rights crap that's been circulating for a month or two. If you're going to believe that access to the internet is a human right, then you accept that it's the responsibility of the government and, by extension, its tax payers.

Martin5000 said,

You may find this interesting: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19284017

Your point? That doesn't back the notion that the equalizer should come in tax form. The tax would affect the middle and lower class too, and it wouldn't do anything to affect the distribution of wealth unless all the people without broadband then monetized their Internet access.

Get off your high horse please.