One of the problems with the so-called Universal Service Fund is its very name: if it’s “universal,” it will accommodate almost anything. The FCC has pretty much admitted it:
“Congress did not envision that services supported by universal service would remain static,” said FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin [in 2007]. “Instead, it views universal service as an evolving level of communications services. A modern and high-quality communications infrastructure is essential to ensure that all Americans, including those residing in rural communities, have access to the economic, educational and healthcare opportunities available on the network.”
Martin has since left the FCC, but there’s no reason to think that the Commission has changed its tune or that state and local officials will dance to another.
The following rumor and for now, that’s all it is came in early this morning:
Just heard the OK Corporations [sic] Commission is planning to levy a new $47 million tax on all cell phone and land line users this Tuesday. These are all elected Republicans trying to do this without any public scrutiny. They are going to double the taxes we pay to the universal service fund…a fund as I understand it created before cell phones were popular meant to support landlines. Republicans imposing $47 million in new taxes to support land lines!?
Of course, if the Universal Service Fund is “evolving” well, you can see where this might be going. And Republicans aren’t exactly tax-averse when they’re holding the purse strings.
Interestingly, as of this writing, the OCC Web site has meetings and agendas posted through Monday, though nothing for Tuesday.
I am currently billed for both Federal and Oklahoma “universal service fees”, as follows:
- Landline: federal, 76 cents, state, $1.30.
- Wireless: federal, 73 cents, state, 54 cents.
We’ll see what happens. The original rumor came in as a comment, and was attached to this post after the fact. I note that the same email address shows up in several comments on this subject at other sites, and that in this case, it was using a Belgian IP.