Broadband Breakfast October 19, 2022 – Broadband Subsidy Taxation: Can It Be Changed? : High Speed ​​Breakfast

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2022 — A Broadband Breakfast event panelist last week doubled down on her call for the Federal Communications Commission to unilaterally increase contributions to the Universal Service Fund, though the commission ruled this summer that such a change should come to the leadership of Congress.

Carole Matteyfounder of Mattey Consulting LLC and publisher of a report last year calling for expanding USF’s contribution base to include broadband revenue, told the panel last Wednesday that the FCC has the power legal to transform the basic telecommunications fund to rely on declining voice service revenues.

In a report to Congress in August, the FCC said any USF changes would have to come from legislative authority, arguing that there is “significant ambiguity on the record regarding the scope of the Commission’s existing authority. to broaden the base of contributors”.

But Mattey — who previously said the FCC should act on its own — argued that Congress would be too slow to act and described his perspective as “pragmatic,” arguing that the FCC shouldn’t “wait for Congress resolves these complex issues. ”

USF, which began in 1997, subsidizes telecommunications projects nationwide and is funded by voice-based services — costs that are typically passed on to the consumer. But those costs are rising relative to the voice revenues from which they come, as fewer and fewer Americans are using these services.

To correct this imbalance, industry players have proposed various new sources of funding, including direct taxation, digital advertising revenue and contributions to broadband services.

Roslyn Layton

Roslyn Layton, senior vice president of Strand Consult, proposed that large technology companies that rely on broadband contribute to the fund. She said the vast majority of bandwidth is taken up by video streaming, an activity that — along with other services hosted by technology platforms — depends on large investments in broadband companies’ midstream networks. Such USF reform would require congressional action, Layton conceded.

Angie Kronenberg, chief and general counsel for the industry trade group INCOMPAS, opposed funding USF with Big Tech dollars. She argued that Layton’s proposals would be less “predictable, sufficient and transparent” than a simple tax on broadband service.

“We are thinking of doing it once, and at the [broadband-service level,] is the best and most efficient way to do it,” Kronenberg said. “No matter how Angie Kronenberg – the consumer – wants to use my broadband, I’d much rather pay it once than potentially pay it for every click of what I’m going to do.”

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Wednesday, October 5, 2022, 12 p.m. ET – How to reform the Universal Service Fund

The Universal Service Fund is struggling to fund its programs to promote broadband connectivity across the country. Several policy experts have suggested fundamental changes to the structure of USF’s funding mechanisms to revitalize the program. Should the Federal Communications Commission expand the jurisdiction of the program to include broadband revenues? Can USF’s mission survive without significant structural change?

Speakers:

  • Carole MatteyFounder of Mattey Consulting LLC
  • Roslyn LaytonSenior Vice President of Strand Consult
  • Angie KronenbergChief Counsel and General Counsel, INCOMPAS
  • Drew Clark (presenter and host), editor and publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist Resources:

High Speed ​​Breakfast Items:

  • Economist warns of customer losses if broadband revenues find a way into universal service fund, Broadband Breakfast, 21 April 2022
  • In FCC Proceeding, Multiple Groups Recommend New General Tax for Universal Service Fund, Broadband Breakfast, March 17, 2022
  • Political groups want a bigger contribution base to shore up the future of the Universal Service Fund, Broadband Breakfast, February 8, 2022
  • Supporters call for Universal Service Fund to include broadband revenue, Broadband Breakfast, November 29, 2021

INCOMPAS policy proposals:

To research:

Carole Mattey, founder of Mattey Consulting LLC, has over 30 years of experience as a senior US government executive, consultant and lawyer specializing in public communications policy. From 2010 to 2017, Carol served as deputy chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission, focusing on the FCC’s ongoing initiatives to reform more than $9 billion in annual federal spending known as the Universal Service Fund, which supports broadband connectivity for rural areas, schools, libraries, healthcare providers and low-income consumers. She led the development and implementation of the Connect America Fund to extend broadband to unserved areas of the United States.

Roslyn Layton, PhD, Senior Vice President of Strand Consult and Visiting Scholar at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, is an international technology expert specializing in the economics, security and geopolitics of broadband internet technology. She has testified before the US Congress on competition in wireless technologies, spectrum reform, the security advantages of 5G over Wi-Fi, and the empirical and ethical arguments for fair cost recovery for broadband networks. She is also a senior contributor to Forbes, a Fellow of the National Security Institute at George Mason University, and a senior adviser to the Lincoln Policy Network.

Angie Kronenberg is the principal advocate and general counsel for INCOPAS, the Association of Internet and Competitive Networks. Angie manages INCOPAS’ policy team and its work with the federal government.

Drew Clark (moderator) is CEO of Breakfast Media LLC, editor and publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com, and a nationally respected telecommunications attorney. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he led the State Broadband Initiative in Illinois. Now, in light of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, Attorney Clark is helping fiber and wireless clients secure financing, identify markets, negotiate the infrastructure and to operate within the public right-of-way.

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