Why is it a national priority to make broadband available universally?
But there is an even bigger question: Why do you and I have to pay for it?
The federal government Thursday gave its blessing for a new fee that will add up to 50 cents to your phone bill initially to fund extended broadband service into every nook and cranny in the United States.
Unless I am missing something, standard Internet serves the Average Joe quite well unless, of course, they are downloading 100 or so movies a month or using the Internet to move extremely large sums of data from their home. So why should you or I pay more so others can have faster download times?
The answer is simple. Uncle Sam thinks it is a splendid idea as do those high tech firms that profit off the Internet. In that case, make the likes of Facebook, Google, Amazon.com, e-Bay, and others that make hundreds of millions a year foot the bill.
The fee actually is already in place on your phone bill. It’s listed as “the federal universal service charge.” It is being collected now to essentially subsidize conventional phone service in remote areas. At least it has same justification as you can argue it allows people to have access to emergency services and such who otherwise wouldn’t be able to connect with them from relatively remote homes due to the cost of extending phone lines.
Broadband, though, is an entirely different game.
Just like with conventional phone lines the money raised would help telecommunication companies put in place physical lines for broadband. They are lines that they will be able to make money off of.
While the middle of Nevada may not have broadband access now, it’s pretty tough to argue that you and I should have to subsidize it just to open up new markets for telecommunication companies.
Check your phone bill for the “federal universal service charge.” Mine is $1.25 a month. It can go up to $1.75 in the next month or so thanks to the appointed Federal Communications Commission. And within five years it could add up to $5 a month to our phone bills.
For you Tea Party types out there please note that this is a de facto tax being imposed by people who aren’t even elected officials.
The expanded fee is designed to raise $4.5 billion a year that can be used by telecommunication firms to expand their broadband system.
Check out the earnings reports for telecommunication firms. Do you think it is right that you are being forced to subsidize expansion of their system not for basic essential service but so people can download the entire season of “Jackass” in 10 seconds?
One can only imagine what the Founding Fathers who couldn’t stomach King George extorting money for the crown without representation would think of Uncle Sam shaking down citizens to expand the reach of private ventures so they can make even more money.