Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

New tax for broadband customers?

Filed under

The suggestions came as lawmakers started debating changes to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which created the framework for the Universal Service Fund, overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.

The USF currently collects a fixed percentage of revenues from long-distance, wireless, pay phone and telephone companies so that it can pass on subsidies to low-income customers, high-cost areas, and rural health care providers, schools and libraries. Most companies come up with their share, set for this quarter at 10.2 percent, by charging their customers a fee.

The USF should continue to be "industry funded," but the base of contributors should be expanded to "all providers of two-way communications, regardless of technology used, to ensure competitive neutrality," a bipartisan coalition of rural legislators said in a June 28 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, which will be drafting the rewrites. That means companies providing broadband services such as VoIP over telephone wires would also have to pay into the fund.

"We need to ensure government policies protect the infrastructure that makes advanced services, including broadband, possible and available to everyone in the United States," said the letter, signed by 62 House members.

"If our residents are to be competitive in today's fast-paced, technology-driven global marketplace, our communities will require affordable high-speed, high-capacity access to data and information over the Internet," Rep. John Peterson, R-Penn., co-chairman of the Congressional Rural Caucus, said at a press conference held the day the letter was released. "If the private sector is either unwilling or unable to provide that service at an affordable price, we'll find a way to provide it for ourselves."

But Randolph May, a senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a market-oriented think tank, said policy-makers should be cautious before making any changes. Broadband access, he said, is getting cheaper and more widely available.

"It's not clear that any subsidies are needed," May said. "But if policy-makers want to provide some subsidies, they should be, in my view, carefully targeted to low-income people that really need them."

The Universal Service Fund in recent years has faced allegations of waste, fraud and abuse. The FCC announced in June a formal inquiry into its management.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Los Alamos Releases File Index Product to Open Source

Today Los Alamos National Laboratory released new open source software called the Grand Unified File Index. GUFI is designed using a new, heirarchical approach to storing file metada, allowing rapid parallel searches across many internal databases. Queries that would previously have taken hours or days can now be run in seconds. Read more Also: Buzzwords: Open Source

A side-by-side comparison of MongoDB and Cassandra databases

They're both databases, obviously. More importantly, they are both examples of NoSQL databases. NoSQL is a type of database architecture in which data is stored in a relatively unstructured fashion. Compared to more traditional SQL-style databases, NoSQL can be a more efficient way of storing the large quantities of unstructured data that organizations commonly use for big data operations. MongoDB and Cassandra are also both open source -- although commercial implementations are available, too. But even in that respect, they are not identical. MongoDB is governed by GNU Affero General Public License 3.0, whereas Cassandra is subject to Apache License 2.0. Read more

This is the New Ubuntu 18.04 Default Wallpaper

You’re gawping at the brand new Ubuntu 18.04 default wallpaper. Yes, seriously! The new background image will make its appearance of tens of millions of desktops with the Ubuntu 18.04 release on April 26, 2018. Like the Ubuntu 17.10 ‘Artful Aardvark’ background new wallpaper incorprates the release mascot (which for this release is a ‘Bionic Beaver’) and is drawn using a geometric-come-origami style. Read more

Node.js Is Now Available as a Snap on Ubuntu, Other GNU/Linux Distributions

Now that Linux is the preferred development platform for developers visiting Stack Overflow, the need for running the latest versions of your favorite programming languages, frameworks and development environments has become more and more important, and Canonical's Snappy technologies are the answer. NodeSource, the organization behind Node.js, announced today they made a Snap package to allow Linux developers to more easily install the popular JavaScript runtime environment on their operating systems. Snap is a containerized, universal binary package format developed by Canonical for Ubuntu Linux. Read more