ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Matt Brunk
Matt Brunk is the President of Telecomworx, an interconnect company based in Monrovia, MD serving small-medium enterprises. He has worked...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Matt Brunk | October 17, 2012 |

 
   

Lifeline the New Breadline

Lifeline the New Breadline Lifeline, the government program for providing landline service to the elderly and needy at reduced rates, has grown wings in recent years.

Lifeline, the government program for providing landline service to the elderly and needy at reduced rates, has grown wings in recent years.

Lifeline, the government program for providing landline service to the elderly and needy at reduced rates, has grown wings in recent years. According to Senator Tom Coburn's "Wastebook 2012" report, the Lifeline program now costs taxpayers $1.5 billion annually and subsidizes cell phone service for 16.5 million Americans.

Not long ago, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated that Internet access is a basic human right, following the United Nations lead along the same argument. Lifeline falls into the same category because he believes that cell phones will "bridge the gap in the digital divide."

Then, Genachowski also stated at the NCTA show held in May that, "Usage-based pricing would help drive efficiency in the networks."

In September, his drive was to tax the Internet by changing the Universal Service Fund (USF) that racks up over $8 billion from taxing phone bills every year into a new program called "Connect America Fund."

Now, for those that think this is just a passing of one program and the birth of another, it's more than that: Essentially, it's in addition to and beyond the original scope of the USF.

The great social campaign that the FCC is pushing is extraordinary because it is simply excessive. During the past couple of years, the FCC (at the behest of AT&T) has called for comments regarding the retiring of the PSTN, and this would mean retiring POTS unless exemptions become grandfathered into this social experiment.

The PSTN isn't going anywhere without a fight, and the battle will be with millions of endpoints that are analog and millions more that the FCC claims to have high speed Internet access. Then, the costs of maintaining copper for T1, T3, DSL and other services will climb.

Incredible amounts of money paid to subsidize schools and libraries in the past, and now funding cell phones, is a misdirection of effort and lacks understanding of both the weaknesses and strengths of the US telecommunications infrastructure. Then, to push taxes onto consumers at an alarming rate is unconscionable. In the past I've warned in Predatory Telecom Taxing that both state and federal legislators would find ways to fill tax gaps for the landline and other tax revenue decline.

My other warning in Excessive Telecom Taxes Kill Growth, Investment, Competitiveness isn't just about bad karma.

Still, I'm willing to accept what most already know: Telecom Cuts & Net Neutrality Won't Escape the Tax Man.

Funding cell phones with Internet access is a national priority? We have one huge program in place that we've paid for over decades. Schools and libraries equipped with computers, Internet access and WiFi (beneficiaries of the E-Rate program) are open to the public. McDonald's offers the largest free WiFi network in the nation. Unused TV spectrum is still a means for effective Internet access. Lifeline landline services are still practical, affordable and unlikely to change with declarations of the PSTN's demise. Visit any local fire station or police station and review their "telecommunications requirements," then address how you are going to remove the PSTN from their existing configurations. Access to the web is viable and readily available for most if not all Americans; but eating steak and lobster on an unrealistic budget isn't.

The national telecommunications and electrical infrastructure remains vulnerable to weather, EMP and acts of terrorism. All the endpoints paid and subsidized won't work with disruptions to an aging grid, infrastructure or legislation and policies that are caught in a time warp that exists between the ears of well-intentioned legislators and policy makers. In a practical sense, the inflated costs of Lifeline just don't ring true and the result is a new breadline.



COMMENTS


Who's Who at Enterprise Connect

NEC

Featured This Week:
Sponsored By


April 24, 2014
Small centers are both excited and nervous about the new wave of innovation converging on them as major disruptive forces - cloud, mobile, big data and social - rock the contact center world. They rea...
April 9, 2014
Recent advances in cloud technology have given rise to wide variety of new tools designed to support contact center performance, staffing and reporting. Join us for a live webinar focused on helping c...
March 26, 2014
As more organizations are focused on maximizing customer experience as a key differentiator to stay ahead of the competition and customer expectations, the focus needs to be on interactions across mul...

Sign up to the No Jitter email newsletters

  • Catch up with the blogs, features and columns from No Jitter, the online community for the IP communications industry. Each Thursday, we'll send you a synopsis of the high-impact articles, podcasts and other material posted to No Jitter that week, with links for quick access.

  • A quick hit of original analysis by the experts who bring you Enterprise Connect, the leading event in Enterprise Communications & Collaboration. Each Wednesday, this enewsletter delivers to your email box a thought-provoking, objective take on the latest news and trends in the industry.

Your email address is required for membership. For details about the user information, please read the UBM Privacy Statement

As an added benefit, would you like to receive relevant 3rd party offers about new products/services and discounted offers via email? Yes

* = Required Field

No longer instrested? Unsubscribe here.