Martin Opposes Broadband Tax


Cable operators shouldn't have to contribute cable-modem revenue to the government fund that keeps local phone rates affordable for the poor and people living in costly-to-serve areas, Republican FCC member Kevin Martin indicated last Wednesday.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering requiring cable operators to contribute a portion of their broadband revenue to the so-called universal service program to ensure that funding support remains robust.

"I do not support the FCC proposal to extend universal-service contribution obligations to providers of broadband Internet access," Martin said at a breakfast forum staged by the Alliance for Public Technology.

He called the proposal an "Internet tax" that would harm deployment of broadband facilities. He also questioned whether broadband revenue should support universal service at a time when the FCC prohibits the use of universal-service funds to subsidize broadband access.

If he prevails, Martin's position could save cable customers hundreds of millions of dollars. In March — when the FCC classified cable-modem service as an information service — many large cable operators stopped collecting and remitting franchise fees on their modem revenue.