Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania

First in Broadband, the Future of Broadband

If there's an upside to President Obama's executive overreach, it's that Congressional Republicans can reassert their constitutional powers. A good place to start would be reclaiming taxing authority from the bureaucracy, starting at the Federal Communications Commission. FCC chief Tom Wheeler illustrated the problem last week when he announced an expansion to E-rate, an Al Gore-era program tucked in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Originally sold to connect students to the "information superhighway," E-rate uses taxpayer money to subsidize telephone and Internet service to rural schools and libraries. It's funded out of the Universal Service Fund, or USF. Mr. Wheeler wants to increase E-rate's spending cap to $3.9 billion from its current $2.4 billion to hook up high-speed broadband access and give students the "tools they need to compete in a global economy" - and he'll pay for it by raising the USF levy on every U.S. telephone customer by 16 cents a month. Or as Mr. Wheeler put it, "the equivalent of one cup of coffee or one medium soda at McDonald's per year."

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