Friday, November 14, 2014

How high cost telecom subsidies might work if Title II common carrier regulation was “Obamacare for the Internet”

President Obama’s call this week to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to regulate Internet service providers as common carrier telecommunications providers provoked Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to disapprovingly dub it “Obamacare for the Internet.”

A political shot to be sure. But what if the high cost of building fiber to the premise infrastructure to all American homes and businesses were subsidized using tax credits such as those used to make individual health insurance more affordable to low and moderate income households under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

Instead of directly subsidizing Internet providers to build infrastructure in high cost areas using the FCC’s Connect America Fund – which many providers have spurned or only selectively accessed – customers in high cost areas would receive the subsidies and not providers.

Providers would be able to charge higher rates (not based on bandwidth use or connection speeds) for fiber connections to homes and businesses in high cost areas. Owners of these properties could then use the telecom tax credits to offset the higher cost of getting them connected.

That would create incentive for these premises to get online while also reducing the business risk of the current subscription-based models that are heavily dependent on how many customer premises sign up for service and which act to inhibit infrastructure construction in higher cost areas of the nation.

What do you think? Share your comments.

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