Obama Wants Raise Cell Phone Taxes to Fund Broadband for Schools

Posted by at 11:32 am on August 15, 2013

President Obama has proposed a plan to bring faster broadband access to the nation’s schools.

The plan, called ConnectEd, would improve internet access at 99% of schools around the country. Obama thinks this could help education initiatives that rely on connectivity and the internet. Obama is attempting to circumvent Congress in order to get the program approved swiftly. Doing so, however, requires the approval of the Federal Communications Commission. According to the Washington Post, the plan will carry costs of between $4 and $6 billion.

In order to fund the plan, Obama is proposing to increase the taxes on monthly cell phone bills. The program would require each line of service to contribute about $12 over a period of three years, meaning it would cost cell phone owners about $4 per year in additional taxes. The FCC needs to approve this tax increase in order for the ConnectEd plan to work. Republicans have promised to fight the proposal. “Most consumers would balk at higher costs, higher phone bills, and I sure hope that this is not part of the equation that ultimately comes out,” said Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “If they pursue that course, there’s going to be pushback, absolutely.”

Right now, there are two democrats and one republican sitting in three of the FCC’s five seats. Obama has nominated replacements for the two empty seats, but it is unlikely they will be installed before the matter comes to a vote.

The wireless industry, including the CTIA, generally opposes new taxes placed on consumers.

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