William Jefferson Clinton Memorial Library
We'd like to welcome you to the
Clinton Library -- dedicated to preserving the true
legacy of the 42nd President of the United States.
promised as President that his would be the "most ethical administration in the
history of the country. As you explore the pages of this website, you can
decide for yourself whether he lived up to that promise
Federal Telecommunications Act of
Since 1996, Americans
have become more comfortable with NEW TAXES!
The "Gore Tax," which is
now being collected (upon directive of the FCC) by telephone companies, began
as a 5% fee (tax) on all interstate long-distance charges, which will,
as AT&T is explaining to its customers, "give schools and libraries access
to advanced services like the Internet."
The Universal Service Fund is
a vehicle for maintaining universal service in the telecommunications sector.
In order to support telephone service in high cost areas, this fund, which is
supported by long-distance service providers, pays subsidies to local exchange
carriers (LECs) in proportion to their subscriber line costs. Subsidy payments
from the USF were started in 1986, and its initial eight-year plan came to an
end in 1993. The Federal Telecommunications Act, passed in the Spring of 1996,
called for major changes in the telecommunications industry. The act placed an
emphasis on competition and deregulation, and included new rules on who could
tap funds in the Universal Service Fund (USF). The act went on to include
changes in how the USF could be used. The Universal Service regulations were
published in the Federal Register on June 17, 1997 and took effect on July 17,
1997 - just in time for the "budget deal."
American Enterprise fellow
James K. Glassman says of the Gore Tax, "The educational benefits are more
uncertain, and 80 percent of schools are already connected to the Internet
anyway." Less than 2% of telephone tax revenues are actually being designated
for "connection fees."
For the first time, the 1996 Act includes schools
and libraries among the explicit beneficiaries of universal service support.
The legislative history indicated that Congress intended to ensure that
eligible schools and libraries have affordable access to modern
telecommunications and information services that will enable them to provide
educational services to all parts of the nation.
K-12 schools and
libraries are eligible for discounts of 20% to 90% on telecommunications
services, Internet access, and internal connections. Funds will be distributed
from a single, common universal service fund that has a cap of $2.25 billion
per year for the entire United States. Any unspent funds carry over for use in
the next year, with slightly different carry forward rules in the first two
By 2006, the fee had more than doubled to 10.9%. The FCC has
subsequently voted to raise the Universal Service Charge or Gore
tax as its become known on telephone users by $1 billion and by 2006 has
now grown to become a $7 billion tax. If memory serves me, Article 1, Section 8
of Constitution still says only Congress shall have power to lay and
collect taxes. How is it that the FCC now has this authority?
June, 2006 the FCC expanded the USF making Internet telephone calls subject to
universal service fund charges for the first time, while raising by 30 percent
the basic USF rate to be paid by customers with cellular service.
Rural Health Care
The FCC is encouraging the
growth of telehealth in rural areas by making telecommunications rates for
public and non-profit rural health care providers comparable to those paid in
urban areas. The annual cap on federal universal service support for health
care providers shall be $400 million per funding year. Telehealth is the use of
communications technologies to provide and support health care at a distance.
Examples of telehealth include the use of communications to provide patient
treatment, often via still images or video, and the exchange and distribution
of public health information.
Only certain health care providers are
eligible to receive supported services under this FCC act. (i) Post-secondary
educational institution offering health care instruction, including a teaching
hospital or medical school; (ii) Community health center or health center
providing health care to migrants; (iii) Local health department or agency;
(iv) Community mental health center; (v) Not-for-profit hospital; (vi) Rural
health clinic; or (vii) Consortium of health care providers consisting of one
or more entities . Only public or non-profit health care providers shall be
eligible to receive supported services.
My phone bill from Southwestern Bell contained the
"The Federal Telecommunications of Act of 1996
required local telephone companies to initiate measures that permit customers
to keep their local telephone numbers if they change their local telephone
service provider while remaining at the same location. This capability is
commonly called "number portability. The Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) has ruled that the costs to provide "number portability" may be recovered
through a monthly service charge."
My first reaction when I saw this
new tax was, "What other local telephone services provider?" So, I called
Southwestern Bell billing department to ask them about it. I spoke with Linda
who very cordially told me she could not divulge that information about their
competitors. She suggested I call the local operator and ask them. So I spoke
with Frank who essentially repeated what Linda had told me and suggested I look
in the Yellow Pages. Letting my fingers do the walking, I found a small obscure
listing for a company that provided such service. So, I called them to inquire
about their services. Guess what? They buy their lines from Southwestern
Bell! What a deal ... get billed by another company that is going to mark
up their costs from the established company (SWB) and get to charge an extra
fee (or tax) to boot. (Do I hear 'conspiracy' anywhere?)
Okay, say I
don't care about having "number portability" and want to cancel it. I call
Southwestern Bell again, this time talking with April. She was again very
cordial and tried her best to explain to me the new charge (within company
guidelines of "what she can and cannot say.") Come to find out that even if I
never use the "number portability" service, I still have to pay for it in order
to have the privilege of calling someone else who might take advantage
of the service.
When is "enough - enough?" These lying politicians in
Washington tell us that they are reducing our taxes ... while they slip in all
these additional fees. I asked April at Southwestern Bell if she had been
getting many calls inquiring about this new tax. She said they had, but most
people were satisfied after being told it was just another mandated tax
levied by the Federal Government.
Personally, I'm getting a little
tired (no, allot tired), of the government taxing, taxing, and taxing, all the
while telling us they're reducing taxes. They are simply doing what Bill
Clinton and the U.S. Senate legitimized: lying!
My most recent phone
bill from Southwestern Bell contains 36% taxes and fees! Someone please
tell me how this is "the right thing to do."
Perhaps you've seen the ad or received an email
Internet Tax Alert
considering long distance charges for your internet connection.
reported that the Government would be deciding at any time to allow or not
allow a Charge to your phone bill equal to a Long Distance call EACH time you
access the Internet.
The above alert has been labeled a "hoax" and "urban
legend" by some. See:
CIAC Internet Hoaxes. [NOTE: the CIAC
page appears to be sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy - who better to
be a watchdog over the federal government.] But, the facts can speak
for themselves... the FCC, not Congress recently ruled on this exact topic and
it was not "hoax." Folks, they may not be getting additional fees (taxes) in
the next several months, but you should know they have their eyes on the "deep
pockets" of the Internet and will incrementally raise prices (increase
taxes) disguised as some other kind of fee.
If the phone companies
have their way, you WILL end up paying more for basic service. The FCC has
ruled that calls to ISP's should be considered interstate transmissions, so
ISPs may have to pay fees to local phone compies for using their wires. FCC
Chairman William Kennard denies that consumers will end up paying higher rates.
Right now, the charges are being waived as an exception, but given the huge
stakes involved, you can count on a long drawn-out legal battle.
The term "net neutrality" was only coined
recently, but the concept existed in the age of the telegraph, maybe even
earlier. In 1860, a US federal law subsidizing a coast to coast telegraph line
stated that "messages received from any individual, company, or corporation, or
from any telegraph lines connecting with this line at either of its termini,
shall be impartially transmitted in the order of their reception, excepting
that the dispatches of the government shall have priority."
- An act to facilitate communication between the Atlantic and Pacific
states by electric telegraph. June 16, 1860
Network Neutrality essentially describes networks that
do not favor particular network destinations or classes of applications over
others. For example, a neutral network would not give better service to some
web sites over others, and it would likewise not favor web-surfing or blogging
over online gaming or Voice over IP. Network neutrality violations for
political or moral reasons are not uncommon, for example China and Saudi Arabia
both filter the internet, preventing access to certain types of
Network providers often enter into peering arrangements among
themselves that often stipulate how certain information flows should be
treated. In addition, network providers often implement various policies such
as blocking of port 25 to prevent insecure systems from serving as spam relays,
or other ports commonly used by decentralized music search applications (often
called "P2P" though all applications on the Internet are essentially
Large American internet content providers have claimed
that network neutrality also concerns the question of network providers
favoring or disfavoring certain websites (e.g. google.com) or certain brands of
Voice Over IP over others. Advocates of network neutrality claim that large
telecommunications providers are attempting to unfairly profit from their
investment in residential networks: "[These companies] want to be Internet
gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won't load at
all"..."tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their
data."..."to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone
services, and streaming video while slowing down or blocking their
competitors"..."to reserve express lanes for their own content and
Some broadband providers proposed to start charging content
providers in return for higher levels of service. Packets originating from
providers who pay the additional fees would in some fashion be given better
than "neutral" handling, while those content providers who do not pay the
higher fees would get a lesser level of service. Given this ability to
accelerate the handling of selected packets, the service providers would
perhaps give Quality of Service guarantees to given senders or recipients. This
points out that once the net moves away from common carrier rules there are at
least two levels of pricing: the price an ISP charges consumers for access and
the price the ISP could charge Websites by varying bandwidth.
In 2004, a small North Carolina telecom company,
Madison River Communications, blocked their DSL customers from using the Vonage
VoIP service. Service was restored after the FCC intervened and entered into a
consent decree that had Madison River pay a fine of $15,000.
Many broadband operators have imposed various
contractual limits on the activities of their subscribers. In the best known
examples, Cox Cable disciplined users of virtual private networks (VPNs) and
AT&T, as a cable operator, warned customers that using a Wi-Fi service for
home-networking constituted "theft of service" and a federal crime. Comcast
blocked ports of VPNs, forcing the state of Washington, for example, to
contract with telecommunications providers to ensure that its employees had
access to unimpeded broadband for telecommuting applications.
Save The Internet, an advocacy organization led by media
critic Free Press, has cited several situations as examples of discrimination
- In 2005, Canadian telephone
giant Telus blocked access to voices-for-change.ca, a website supporting the
company's labour union during a labour dispute, as well as over 600 other
websites, for about sixteen hours.
- Shaw Cable, a major Canadian
internet provider, offers a "quality of service" upgrade for their VoIP
service. A number of competing VoIP providers have issued complaints that Shaw
may be downgrading competitor's traffic. No evidence has been offered to
support any such claim.
- In April, Time Warner's AOL
blocked all emails that mentioned www.dearaol.com, an advocacy campaign
opposing the company's pay-to-send e-mail scheme. An AOL spokesman called the
issue an unintentional "glitch."
- In February, 2006, some of Cox
Cable's customers were unable to access Craig's List because of a so-called
software bug in the Authentium personal firewall distributed by Cox Cable to
improve customers' security. Save the Internet said this was an intentional act
on the part of Cox Cable to protect classified ad services offered by its
partners. The issue was resolved by correction of the software as well as a
change in the network configuration used by Craig's List. Craig Newmark
acknowledges this was not intentional.
I have personally encountered discrimination on the
part of Cox Cable as they have violated net neutrality by blocking certain
emails being sent through their SMTP servers. Although Cox will not disclose
the criteria for blocking emails and denies the violations, I have demonstrated
they do, in fact, censor a certain class of email messages sent by their
Even though Cox Communications has implemented improvements
in networking technology, which make providing broadband service cheaper, they
still found a way of increasing their fees for broadband access by 5% in 2006.
Was this perhaps a reaction to the competition for audio telecommunications
over the Internet (including Voice Over IP technology) which threaten their
revenues? Cox has been aggressively advertising their own VoIP service at a
much higher cost than their competitors and since they have so far been banned
from blocking their competitors traffic, perhaps they have found a way to
charge everyone higher fees to make up the difference.
In the US Broadband services were once regulated
differently according to the technology on which they were delivered. While
cable Internet has always been classified by the FCC as an information service
free of most regulation, DSL was once regulated as a telecommunications
service. As the two types of networks have increasingly provided the same
services, it has become difficult to justify different sets of rules, leading
to the question of which rules should apply to both. In 2005 the FCC
re-classified DSL according to the more permissive cable rules.
Proposals for network neutrality laws are generally
opposed by the cable television and telephone industries, and some network
engineers and free-market scholars from the conservative to libertarian.
Opponents argue that (1) Network neutrality regulations severely limit the
Internet's usefulness; (2) network neutrality regulations threaten to set a
precedent for even more intrusive regulation of the Internet; (3) imposing such
regulation will chill investment in competitive networks (e.g., wireless
broadband) and deny network providers the ability to differentiate their
services; and (4) that network neutrality regulations confuse the unregulated
Internet with the highly regulated telecom lines that it has shared with voice
and cable customers for most of its history.
By late 2005, network neutrality regulations were
included in several Congressional draft bills, as a part of ongoing proposals
to reform the Telecommunications Act of 1996. They would generally require
internet providers to allow consumers access to any application, content, or
service. However, important exceptions allow providers to discriminate for
security purposes, or to offer specialized services like "broadband video"
service. These regulations generally forbid ISPs from offering different
service plans to their customers.
This article is licensed under the
GNU Free Documentation
License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Network neutrality"
Cell phone subscribers in nearly every state pay
anywhere from 20 cents to $1.50 a month for what is described in their bills as
911 improvements. In a recent Associated Press analysis, more than $200 million
collected from cell phone users for upgrades to the 911 system has been
diverted in the last two years to plug state budget holes, keep campaign
promises and, in at least one case, buy police uniforms. In some states, the AP
analysis found, less than half that money is actually going to help emergency
dispatchers keep pace with the features of smart phones.