FCC Eyes Hiking Phone Bills to Expand Internet Access

Feds want to open networks, but would tax your phone bill to do it
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2009 6:48 AM CST
Zachary Delorne, 14, who lives on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation, uses a computer lab at tribal offices. The tribe has applied for stimulus money earmarked for building broadband networks.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – Al Gore may think he created the Internet, but it's the FCC that's looking to make it available to all Americans—and it's considering taxing your phone bill to pay for it. Federal regulators will outline their case today for stepping up government control of Internet and phone services, the Wall Street Journal reports, in a move to reverse Bush-era policies and bring widespread, cheap broadband access.

The FCC is considering options including doubling a $7 billion federal phone-subsidy fund to include broadband and reclaiming airwaves from TV stations to sell to wireless providers. The regulator is also considering new "open access" rules to force Internet providers to share their networks. Phone and cable companies are firmly opposed to any such measures, although an FCC-commissioned study credited open-access rules with improving networks in other countries.