Wednesday, June 21, 2006

VOIP must pay USF, FCC says

Reuters reports that "Consumers who use wireless or Internet-based telephones could see their bills rise, as the U.S. FCC approved on Wednesday a new plan for funding phone service subsidies. The FCC ordered Internet telephone services like Vonage to contribute part of their revenue into the Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes phone service to rural and low-income areas as well as communications services and Internet access for schools, hospitals and libraries. The agency also increased the amount wireless telephone providers would have to pay into the fund. The move may lead to higher bills for wireless and Internet telephone customers because the companies typically pass the fees on to customers. Companies offering long-distance and international telephone services as well as high-speed Internet service via DSL must currently contribute 10.9% of that revenue into the [corrupt, self-serving, political pork barrel] $7.3B fund. However, DSL providers will no longer have to contribute to the program after August, so the FCC had to act to avoid a potential shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. Consumers' DSL bills could go down if the savings were passed through to them. Under the plan adopted by the FCC commissioners, providers of Internet phone service, known as VOIP, would have to pay about 7% of their revenue into the fund under the current contribution factor.' [Can you say 499a forms, please?] How is it that $7B is NOT ENOUGH? How is it that even $2B is not enough??? Too much fat in the pork barrel. This Action by the Commission, June 21, 2006, is by Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, (FCC 06-94). Please comment on this Order.

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