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NEWS: LA Times: FCC's net neutrality rules open door to new fee on Internet service


04.09.15

WASHINGTON, DC – House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today commented on a report from the Los Angeles Times headlined “FCC’s net neutrality rules open door to new fee on Internet service.” The article explains that the Obama administration’s recently adopted rules to regulate the Internet could expand fees currently applied to phone service and impose them on broadband customers for the first time.

“Once the door is open to new fees, there’s no closing it. As the lawsuits start to pile up, so do the harmful consequences of the FCC’s decision to put the government between consumers and the Internet,” said Walden. “Protecting a free and open Internet is a goal we all share, but the FCC’s action only brings more uncertainty to the table at the expense of the American consumer’s wallet. Only by congressional action can we truly protect consumers and ensure continued investment, competition, and job creation in our Internet economy.”

April 9, 2015

FCC’s net neutrality rules open door to new fee on Internet service

By Jim Puzzanghera

Recently adopted net neutrality regulations soon could make your monthly Internet bill more complicated — and potentially more expensive.

Every month, consumers pay a small fee on their phone bills for a federal program that uses the money — a total of $8.8 billion raised nationwide last year — to provide affordable access to telecommunications services in rural areas, underserved inner cities and schools.

Now the fee could start appearing on broadband bills too, in a major expansion of the nearly two-decade-old Universal Service Fund program.

It’s not clear yet, however, if most consumers would end up paying more in total USF fees than they do now.

In approving the tough rules for online traffic in February, the Federal Communications Commission put broadband in the same regulatory category as phone service, opening the door for the charges.

For phone service, telecom firms pass the fees directly to their customers, with the average household paying about $3 a month.

Those who opposed the net neutrality rules foresee the fees rising.

“The federal government is sure to tap this new revenue stream soon to spend more of consumers’ hard-earned dollars,” warned Ajit Pai, a Republican on the FCC. “So when it comes to broadband, read my lips: More new taxes are coming. It’s just a matter of when.”

Higher fees on Internet bills could make the service unaffordable for some people, reducing broadband adoption instead of expanding it, critics said. …

The FCC sets the size of the fund, and the size has been increasing almost every year as the focus has shifted from providing phone service to providing Internet access to those without it. The fund has grown about 47% since 2004 ….

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who heads a House subcommittee that oversees the FCC, proposed last month that Congress cap the fund at $9 billion a year to stop its “runaway growth.” …

Read the full article online HERE

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