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.
“Not clear yet”? Ha ha ha ha ha! Whoever wrote that was born yesterday.
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.”
Those darn Republicans, always harshing everybody’s mellow.
Higher fees on Internet bills could make the service unaffordable for some people, reducing broadband adoption instead of expanding it, critics said.
Rule of thumb when dealing with Democrats: whatever they say a new law will do, bet on the exact opposite.