102 USB Mandated Phone
Fee Increase 18% By 2007
YES90 / WASHINGTON -- U.S. households could see a
government-mandated fee on their telephone bills rise as
much as 18.1% by 2007 depending on what changes are made to
a fund that subsidizes communications services,
congressional budget officials said Monday
carriers that offer long-distance service are required to
pay a percentage of revenues into the Universal Service
Fund, which subsidizes telephone service for low-income
families as well as Internet access in schools and
fees are passed on to consumers. But the emergence of
wireless and unlimited calling plans has raised questions
about whether the fund is sustainable.
possibilities for revamping the system include charging a
flat fee for each telephone number or expanding the services
that would fall under the program, according to a report by
the Congressional Budget Office.
If no action is
taken, a shrinking long-distance revenue base and increased
demand on the so-called USF program would cause the average
payment by each household to rise 8.1% to $2.26 a month in
2007 from $2.09 a month in 2003, the report said.
average charge probably would rise to $2.47 a month by 2007,
or 18.1%, if the USF program was switched to a per-number
charge or if cable high-speed Internet service was included
in the revenue for calculating contributions.
based on usage of multiple communications services, the
monthly fee probably would be $2.28 by 2007, the report
could be funding the USF programs through general Treasury
revenue, the Congressional Budget Office said.
cost of raising a dollar in general revenues
generally less than the economic cost of raising a dollar
from sector-specific taxes, which tend to distort consumers'
choices by affecting the prices of goods and services," the
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