FCC Wants To Cap Spending on Broadband for Poor and Rural Areas

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Mr. Bluntman, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. Mr. Bluntman

    Mr. Bluntman [H]ardness Supreme

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    getty-fcc-republicans-cpac-800x454.jpg
    The giant coffee mug-wielding head of the FCC and his fellow Republican members want to put a hard cap on how much funds are spent on the Universal Service Fund - things like subsidies for the poor to get cheap DSL access, or to build out broadband infrastructure in remote areas.

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...on-broadband-for-poor-people-and-rural-areas/

    "Adopting an overall spending cap for the Universal Service Fund, as proposed in the recent circulation item, is both overdue and incredibly needed," O'Rielly told Ars. "The commission must inject fiscal responsibility into the USF [Universal Service Fund] by establishing an upper boundary of how much we are willing to take from hardworking American consumers who support the program through higher fees on their phone bills."

    What are your thoughts?

    Discuss.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  2. Crosshairs

    Crosshairs Administrator Staff Member

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    Ive always seen the USF as just a line item on my bill that gets taken from me and put in the pockets of the big carriers. is there a list somewhere that we can see where this money has actually gone?
    I have no issue helping other Americans but I fear we are only subsidizing the carriers with this money .Verizon comes to mind..they took millions from PA in the form of higher bills and subsidies and did basically nothing but make excuses for years and then abandoned the project all together
     
  3. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    I see nothing wrong with this even if the OP is trying to blatantly blame a certain political persuasion.

    Actually reading the article (what a novel idea) I see a couple things...

    1). This "cap" is higher than what is currently being collected so right off the bat it's a non-issue. The cap is set to be $11.4 billion but they only spent $9.6 billion in 2018.
    2). The money comes from "Hardworking Americans." While I understand the verbage as a political tool, the reality is there will be a cap on this "tax" that a consumer gets charged. This isn't money coming from Verizon...Verizon just passes on the bill to the consumer directly in a line item. Why wouldn't the average customer want a cap on what the government can charge?
    3). Some "necessary" programs for the poor, etc. aren't subject to this cap.
     
  4. c3k

    c3k 2[H]4U

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    I concur with this idea. As well as the elimination of rural electrification fees. And, yes, I live in a rural area.
     
  5. Zareek

    Zareek Limp Gawd

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    Screw the cap, I want transparency through the entire process. I want to know where every dime was spent. I know from personal experience than neither Verizon, Charter/Spectrum nor AT&T can be trusted. They simply don't play by the rules. They have no ethics. They lie, cheat and steal from consumers. I wouldn't be surprised to find out they are taking money for services that have never been rendered.
     
  6. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Urban areas wouldn't be able to produce food for themselves, but they don't want to subsidize the costs of providing internet for rural areas that actually produce their food? Do you think people living outside the urban areas should pay more for the same internet access? I don't think so. These are the kind of policies that force people into the already overpopulated cities abandoning rural life. I just don't know who will produce food if everyone is forced to live in densely populated areas by these politicians.
     
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  7. workshop35

    workshop35 Gawd

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    Would this fund pay the 15k comcast wants to run cable to my house :)
     
  8. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    First, you're making an assumption that broadband internet is a basic human right, which I completely disagree with. Second, your scenario is absurd. People aren't going to move to the city just for broadband access. This isn't Ready Player One....this is reality. Third, there is always a trade off between urban and rural areas. Urban areas have access to certain things, but the cost of living is significantly higher. And yes, I think rural people should pay more for internet access if it comes down to it. Urban areas pay more for electricity and that's a "utility." I haven't heard you complaining about that.
     
  9. Agreed. And I also lived most of my life in rural settings.

    Straw man. Back before the rural electrification subsidy (REA) most people who lived in those areas were active in agriculture of some sort, that is no longer the case. In 1935 less than half of the US population lived in what would be considered rural areas, but well over half of those were active in farming, in 2000 only about 20% of the population lives in rural areas and only 10% of that is engaged in farming. Farming is BIG business and also heavily subsidized, small family farms are just a thing of the past.

    Other factors is that the REA changed economic settling of people in the US, as living in the country meant subsidized power, and now means subsidized internet. Power lines in rural areas cost more and run at higher voltages, people also don't know that 90% of power lines only cover about 10% of the population, as it's almost all rural. This is becoming the same for internet, cost of install and maintenance is higher in rural areas as well, all of which is paid for by the people who don't live in rural areas. And as I stated above, I have lived most of my life in rural areas, where you have to drive over an hour to see anything other than a gas station, our family knew the trade offs for that life style, no one should have to pay for another persons personal life choices of where they live.
     
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  10. magoo

    magoo [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Where do you live?
    Have you ever grown anything? Repaired a fence in a blizzard? Dug through 2 feet of snow to get to the animals to feed them?
    Had to repair frozen water lines at -20F ?

    Everybody who lives in a warm cozy house with a Kuerig and a microwave and has a hissy-fit when the internet goes down or the power goes off
    should shake a farmer's hand.
    Yup, I raise livestock and plant food.
    I also pay "USF" just like everyone else.

    You can whine and tell me I chose to do this.......well I also have two other jobs to help pay for the
    gas and equipment.
    Enjoy your cheeseburger....
     
  11. So your unhappy with your life choices it seems?
     
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  12. longblock454

    longblock454 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Won't the low flying Satellite internet that is coming solve most of this issue?
     
  13. Dead Parrot

    Dead Parrot 2[H]4U

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    Agree we need full accountability with this and other programs. With things like the REA and Interstate Highway System, it was pretty easy to verify completion. If a house has power wires and lights on or there is a 4 lane divided highway sporting the blue shield numbers, good sign the power or road folks have completed their tasks in that area. Verifying ISP speeds is somewhat harder. Rather hard to look at a house and tell if and what speed connection it has.

    Maybe broadband speed availablity should be a question on the upcoming Census form?
     
  14. illli

    illli [H]ard|Gawd

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    verizon and at&t need to be taken to court to get back those billions in subsidies that the us govt' gave them in exchange for 'promises' the companies made to roll out nationwide broadband/fios
     
  15. wizdum

    wizdum [H]ard|Gawd

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    As a WISP, we don't ever touch this money. The big cell carriers eat it all up before we are even considered. The vast majority of the time (i'd almost argue 100% of the time), the money goes towards upgrading cell towers in rural-ish areas, which does not really help anyone. These towers also tend to be placed near major highways, where the carriers were already planning on building out anyway. People in rural areas need competition and reliability. A $100+ per month cell phone contract, with a 4GB cap, is not competition.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention, once the cell provider puts up their shiny new tax-payer funded tower, all addresses in a certain radius of that tower are no longer eligable for further funding. So if a competitor wants to come in and run fiber, or coax, or even twisted pair or microwave, they have to fund the entire build-out with no assistance. In a way, its counter-productive to real broadband competition.

    Some of the money that the USF collects does go to schools and libraries, to help them afford broadband and internet networking.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
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  16. Zareek

    Zareek Limp Gawd

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    Sorry, I totally disagree. I think in this day and age, basic broadband access should be considered a necessity. If you want society to advance beyond it's current level, fast communication for all is imperative. I also know dozens of people who make good broadband access a part of their decision on where they will rent or buy a home. I'm not sure where it is you leave but in my craptastic libtard state everyone pays almost the same rates. We have a choice of who generates our electricity, so that is always a wildcard. I know people who live in Boston who pay less for electricity than I do out in the sticks because they have a different carrier who has lower transmission rates. BTW, this fund doesn't help me in any way. We had cable installed back when the closest thing to the internet was dial-up to a major BBS.
     
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  17. Necessity for some people? Sure, and if it is, you should move where you have access to it.

    What someone wants or needs is not the same as a right. You can not have a right that makes a demand of other people, their works and their labor. The rights we have are the rights to be left alone, that is free speech, or the right to bear arms etc etc, make note that just because you have the right to bear arms does not mean someone has to provide you with a firearm, the same that free speech means others have to allow you to say what you want, but they do not have to provide you with a platform for that speech.

    Far to many people today confuse these, and make claims to "rights" that no one has.
     
  18. Zareek

    Zareek Limp Gawd

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    Hmmm, interesting how you went off on a tangent about rights since I didn't say anything about it being someone's right. We do however have a need for broadband so we can avoid things like big media brainwashing the masses. So they can access real information and maybe learn something. The real issue at the heart of a need for something like this is greed. See the big companies that have cornered the market on access are only willing to invest in infrastructure when it will pay for itself really fast. Not that it will pay for itself well before it needs to be replaced or that it will in fact make money. No it has to make a lot of money real fast or it doesn't matter. It's not like they aren't making Billions in profits. It's not like they don't have the money to invest. It's all about greed with megacorps. Verizon is a great example, making billions in profits and laying off workers because the big cats want more.
     
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  19. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    I'm pretty sure if he had been around, he would have been against rural people getting electricity in the 30s and telephone service in the 40s-50s too if it wasn't done in some libertarian fashion.
     
  20. pclov3r

    pclov3r Limp Gawd

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    Say what you will but how many times has funds for internet in rural areas been abused and not used as it should be? Why do you want to continue to give them tax money that they'll waste and not use for the intended purpose and zero accountability for it? Both party lines are responsible here.

    If you want to give them money they have to actually show accountability and the funds start to be abused and not used for the intended purpose they are revoked.

    EDIT: This is for USF so not tax dollars but the same applies in general.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
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  21. lostin3d

    lostin3d [H]ard|Gawd

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    Here in NM a number of municipalities have asked the same question in recent years of CenturyLink. They were able to track millions given, but not where it went. CL even admitted abandoning the once mythical statement of providing fiber to the entire state.
     
  22. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    Actually, my original statement was that it wasn't a basic human right, so he is more on target than your response to it. Sure, it's nice to have, and I don't doubt people decide where to live based on their broadband options, but it isn't the equivalent of food, clothing, and shelter, so my point is we shouldn't act like it is.
     
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  23. Taldren

    Taldren Gawd

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    So you inject your hateful opinion of what they are "actually doing" regardless of what they stated they are doing. Lobsters?

    As one of those "[H]ardworking American consumers", I absolutely expect "fiscal responsibility" with money stolen ... err Taxed from me. Feel free to donate more to the USF if you feel you don't give enough.
     
  24. The person you quoted said that internet is not a right, and you said that you "totally disagree". So you are changing your opinion that it is NOT a right and that others should not be forced to pay for other peoples personal life choices?

    I have actually covered this many times on this forum, rural people already had electricity before the REA, which only lined the pockets of electric providers and increased costs for everyone else. They used grants and loan guarantees to subsidize companies that built electric and phone lines. The reason the suppliers didn't build out to these people is the cost of install to so few people, and those people were not willing to pay the cost and ROI to the cost of install would almost never happen, so other tax payers paid for it.

    Other factors is that the REA changed economic settling of people in the US, as living in the country meant subsidized power. Power lines in rural areas cost more and run at higher voltages, people also don't know that 90% of power lines only cover about 10% of the population, as it's almost all rural. Funny enough lots of research was going into wind and solar power after WWI for rural power up until Roosevelt announced that it was the right of every American to have power, at which point all that research stopped.....And now today people claim that we would not have solar and wind power if it wasn't for government subsidizing it.....Oh the irony.

    "At the time of REA’s implementation, the number of farms that owned a solar or wind electric plant was never considered in the federal government’s deliberations, although the number was 50 percent greater than rural homes close to cities and transmission lines that were served by the electric utilities which were considered. In providing electric power to homes that already had it, the REA solved a problem that didn’t exist. The aggressive REA program pitted neighbor against neighbor and insisted that any farm or wind electric plant equipment was removed or made inoperative for bogus “safety” reasons. In the process, REA destroyed an entire industry of more than 170 primary manufacturers and several hundred secondary manufacturers, plus sales and service organizations, which operated successfully and even grow in a vibrant free market during the Great Depression. Along with the losses of tens of thousands of jobs, the small town manufacturers and retailers disappeared and energy dollars flowed out of these towns to the electric power monopolies in the urban centers."

    dENekmt.png
     
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  25. Mr. Bluntman

    Mr. Bluntman [H]ardness Supreme

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    The only thing I am hateful of is the gross corruption in our government. On both sides of the aisle. I expect accountability for my tax dollars spent, and the USF has basically been abused to the telco's gains at our expense. Throwing rural customers and the poor under the bus in the process isn't the best solution.

    Our views may be different, but I want to keep this thread moving, not start a political argument.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  26. Taldren

    Taldren Gawd

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    Starting it with "The giant coffee mug-wielding head of the FCC and his fellow (R)s..." is not the way to avoid a political argument. Tone matters.

    Giving companies blank checks for 'charity' that has no oversite is basically giving companies a slush fund to use for whatever they want. I rather these federal subsidies didn't exist in the first place and the state, itself, deal with issues of getting internet access to rural areas within its borders. The more borders a subsidy is allowed to cross, the more easily it is corrupted ... which makes federal subsidies some of the worst.
     
  27. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    I like how this is just one sentence in your post, and yet it says it all. Yes, that is a prime idea behind taxes. Part of what they do is fund things people can't afford, but need. They also fund things that are needed, but are unprofitable for the private sector.

    As for the solar / wind argument, if they were competitive, they certainly had plenty of time to get going, it took a long time to lay all the wire from the REA. That's kind of the point behind the REA, it was taking too long to get people electricity leaving things to the free market. I like how you assume all the safety issues to be bogus as well, after all, poorly done electric jobs never cause fires or anything. What you are all posting is very classic libertarian.

    In reality, I'm sure there's some truth on both sides. I'm sure some farms were self-sufficient and the REA was an intrusion, and I'm sure there was some corruption with the energy companies also. On the flipside, there were a whole shitload of rural people without electricity that wouldn't have gotten any without the REA and you're admitting that plenty of them were unwilling or unable to pay for it. Since both solutions have problems, I tend to be in favor of whatever helps the most people. Leaving everything to the free market typically does a miserable job in that respect.

    In any event, you answered the question, yes, you would have been against the government bringing electricity and telephone to rural people who didn't have them in the past. Congrats, your libertarian principles are in tact.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
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  28. That is not the prime idea behind taxes, they were meant to support government in enforcement of laws and legal system as well as protection from enemy states, it was not, nor ever meant to be of ANY kind of hand out. History is littered with founders and congressmen that state this, "We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money" - Davy Crockett

    The idea of voting ones self benefits out of the public coffers is nothing new.

    They were competitive, wind and solar was a new and very quickly growing field, and this was in the great depression, to have an industry that was still growing at all was amazing and shows what the market can do, price for top of the line 440 amp hour capacity kit cost $830, and in the year of 1935, they had a total of 800,000 rural farms and homes with these wind and solar units, 1935 was also the start of the REA, which spent 210 million over 2 years to only supply power to 220,000 farms/homes with only a single 60 amp circuit, at the cost of $950 per home, more than the wind/solar units cost and serving less homes. Also, once the power lines were setup, the farms/homes still had to pay a service fee AND a per-unit cost of electricity, something the wind/solar units did not require. So the free market, was developing new tech, that produced less pollution, at a time where energy production was not exactly "clean", in the middle of the great depression, with growing jobs and businesses, for a cheaper price than the REA was able to do and to more homes and also had no additional unit cost of electricity, with all of the cost being paid by the land owner with no subsidy. But you want to act like the REA was the better choice? Lol.....OK.

    At the time of the REA, they had 170 manufactures with lots of competition, as they were not a power monopoly from the urban areas that lobbied for grants and subsidy. I have made NO assumptions on the bogus claims of safety, you are assuming that I have, without any understanding of the topic yourself, I was in the electrical field for a long while and worked in power stations (petrochemical) as well as modern wind turbines in Houston and the coast where the blades and nacelles are made and in Shreveport where the towers were built, which the history interested me, so I did research on it's development, I have also had the pleasure of working and looking at a few of the older units, like the Jacobs wind electric units. As for safety, the units are DC, they are very hard to hurt yourself with, and you honestly have to try while working on them, unlike AC power and internal wiring of the homes and farms were the same, what changed was if it was fed with central power stations or through an inverter off of a battery bay from wind/solar. Even after they made claims it was less safe and they started having them dismantled, the government and military kept on using them at rural and remote bases, a Jacobs unit was even used at Admiral Byrd's Little America, Antarctica Camp, which was abandoned years later until they returned over 10 years later, most of the base totally covered, with the wind turbine being the only thing still working, the base was cleared and the wind turbine continued to supply power until the base was dismantled in 1955. But hey, I don't know ANYTHING about this and I am only assuming it's bogus. :rolleyes:

    There was not a "shit load" of people without power that were helped any faster after the REA, even after the REA, the RECs only supplied power to 10% of the rural population after a many years, while at the start of the REA wind/solar already covered 15%, and many of that 10% the REA covered already had power from wind/solar as wind and solar were not considered in deliberation of electrification coverage, only homes that were powered by central power stations. And how many were unwilling or unable to pay for power does not give anyone the right to take from others for their own life choices. And you have yet to show anything refuting what I have shown, yet you want to claim the free market was doing a "miserable job".

    I also like how you have tried a few times now to take this down a political direction by throwing out the dirty word "libertarian", as it's easier to attack a political group, even though I have said nothing about politics or what if any I assign myself to. Address the post, not the poster. Political platitudes will be ignored.
     
  29. Smashing Young Man

    Smashing Young Man [H]ard|Gawd

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    This is why I think allowing all members to post new threads in this forum will be a disaster.
     
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  30. motomonkey

    motomonkey [H]ard|Gawd

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    As long as you are exposing the truth, lets expose another one, despite all that tax money, there really isn't high speed internet in rural america. you can imply otherwise as you just did in this post, but get a few miles outside a town or city, and welcome to 1980. no cable. no ISP, just dial-up. sometimes. the state of the Landlines means actually connecting to a dial-up service provider is sketchy at times.

    And rural internet users pay MORE, not less for internet access with slower speeds if they have access at all.

    "No one should have to pay for another persons personal life choices" is a fucking cop out. I don't have kids, but guess what, I get taxed every month for schools. I haven't ever had to call the police or fire dept. but holy shit, I pay for that to! what an outrage.

    rural residents have just as much right to public utilities as someone living in an urban area, part of the social contract the government has with the people is they have access to basic utilities when possible, and if you don't think internet access isn't important for everyone, you should probably get back in your delorean and head back to 1980.
     
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  31. Hakaba

    Hakaba Gawd

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    Nope, I rather my taxes (along with those thieving ISPs) go towards funding the expansion of broadband across the US as a whole.
     
  32. Brian_B

    Brian_B 2[H]4U

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    I live rural.

    I wouldn’t have a problem paying more for broadband.

    Problem is it isn’t even available.

    Ok, sure, by the definition of the FCC I can get satellite at “up to” 100 Mb... I don’t think that is even in the same league as cable, or even DSL, but for some reason exceed / Hughes gets a ton of subsidy to offer it.

    It’s a scam. It should either get fixed to not be a scam (which honestly I think isn’t possible) or go away.
     
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  33. Please do point to where I said anything about internet speeds in rural areas, go on, I will wait.

    You seemed to have missed where I said I lived a significant portion of my life in rural areas, 20 years with dial up, if I was lucky. You seem to also fail to see what you pointed out as "truth", yes, with all that tax money, rural areas see almost no change in internet speeds or coverage, why? Just like with the REA and RECs, it is not the companies money, it is tax dollars, that they use to line their pockets, so why on earth would anyone not support a cap on this?

    ""No one should have to pay for another persons personal life choices" is a fucking cop out." Lol, what? Also, where did I say you should have to pay for schools or anything else, again, I will wait. Just another ad hominem fallacy.

    Do they have a right to internet? I don't see any company refusing to install them, only people refusing to pay the cost of their choices in living arrangements. The last time I lived in a rural area, I was just outside the range of the ISPs DSLAM, I asked what could be done and they said they would install another for my home if I would pay the $25,000 install cost. There is a huge difference between a right to something, and a right to have someone else provide something to you out of their own works and labor, which is what you are asking for. Its not that they are denied the service, but rather they refuse to pay the cost of it's install and want other people to foot the bill for them.
     
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  34. Zareek

    Zareek Limp Gawd

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    Just because I said I disagree, doesn't necessarily mean I believe the total opposite. That's why I elaborated on how I felt. A right is granted to citizens of the United States by the Bill of Rights. A necessity is something every person needs to be a good functioning, contributing member of society. If you don't want to pay for it, exercise your right to abstain from using the services the fees are applied to. That shouldn't be a big deal, you don't feel it's a necessity.
     
  35. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics I don't get it

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    Problem is that it isn't a tax on you by the government it's a tax by the government on carriers and rather than just absorbing the cost by either having a few pennies less profit each quarter or raising your rates to compensate they simply write it off on a bill. This is the same thing as any "regional sports fee" or "local broadcasting fee" or "shopping bag fee" (California) that your tv provider puts on a bill, they're simply passing the buck but doing so in a way that they can still advertise a lower rate to lure in more customers.

    That said the USF is there for a reason, giving internet to poor, schools, rural is what it is designed for, if they don't lower the USF then they better not touch what they do with the money. This is what happened with social security which as horrible as it seems had more than enough money for ages without worry, but then one day someone said "hey maybe we should..." and fucked it all up
     
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  36. tangoseal

    tangoseal [H]ardness Supreme

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    Hey man try and keep news news... we have enough political B.S. and opinions already on the peanut gallery lame stream media.
     
  37. pentiumiiislota

    pentiumiiislota Limp Gawd

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    They should get rid of it completely but since we live in a mixed market businesses get subsidized and we have no competition.
     
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  38. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    5g makes building out rural broadband a useless waste of money. I agree with this.
     
  39. SmokeRngs

    SmokeRngs [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2008

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    Until that 5g signal gets blocked by a tree branch 100 feet from the tower.
     
  40. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I do.

    I damn well do.

    If it costs more to provide the service then it should cost more to receive it. I am not a "rob from Peter to pay Paul" sort of guy.

    I grew up in Shallowater Texas, well a few miles in the country between Shallowater and Lubbock. To this day, the best service my Father can get is wireless which is barely better than a 56K modem. Seriously, he was timing out trying to download printer drivers. But living in the country was a choice that he made. It has it's benefits and it has it's down-side. I know rural people get taxed for services that they themselves will never receive. That's wrong, but no less wrong than taxing others to give him broadband. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    The article said that current expenditures won't even touch the new cap. If it can be lowered it can be raised if needed. This thing isn't even an issue.
     
    sharknice likes this.