Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s claim that Title II reclassification will not raise the cost of Internet access for Americans is false.
Wheeler and his staff consistently dodge questions on whether Universal Service Fund and similar fees assessed at the state, local, and federal level will now be assessed on Internet access.
According to Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform:
The FCC’s proposal to classify broadband as a Title II service would make broadband subject to New Deal-era regulation, and U.S. taxpayers could see a 16.1 percent increase on their bills because the Universal Service “Fee” of 16.1 percent on phone lines could automatically apply to broadband.
Brian Fung of the Washington Post reported that, contrary to expectations, the draft rules will actually include parts of Title II that would allow the FCC to extract funds from Internet providers to be used as subsidies.
Gigi Sohn, the FCC Chairman’s special counsel for external affairs, acknowledged that questions remain as to where Universal Service fees will be applied.
These new levies, according to the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), would (total $15 billion) correction: $11 billion annually. On average, consumers would pay an additional $67 for landline broadband, and $72 for mobile broadband each year, according to PPI’s calculations, with charges varying from state to state.
Chairman Wheeler’s version of Title II for broadband leaves the door open for taxes or fees related to Americans’ access to broadband infrastructure, it could also mean taxes and regulations on data usage, video chats, emails, and video streaming.