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Summary:

President George W.Bush is proposing a tax on WiFi and other unlicensed technologies as a way to get some cash into the government coffers and make up for the deficit. Apparently, now that it has become a viable business and innovation opportunity, the Government believes its […]

President George W.Bush is proposing a tax on WiFi and other unlicensed technologies as a way to get some cash into the government coffers and make up for the deficit. Apparently, now that it has become a viable business and innovation opportunity, the Government believes its time to tax it. Yet another example that there is a serious disconnect between Washington DC and Silicon Valley.

President Bush, facing a huge budget deficit, today proposed squeezing more money from the nation’s airwaves by supporting legislative changes that would allow the Federal Communications Commission to set “user fees” on “un-auctioned” radio spectrum. The proposal, contained in the president’s 2007 budget plan and projected to raise $3.6 billion during the decade, is believed to be aimed at unlicensed frequencies used for Wi-Fi and other applications.

By Om Malik

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  1. Good luck.

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  2. I thought he has been on this “Competitive America” kick. How is America going to compete with other countries when we make wireless high speed internet more expensive when other are giving WiFi and broadband away for free?

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  3. David – Because he never means what he says.

    This administration will go down as, bar none, THE worst in terms of cronyism and now extending into stifling innovation. Let Exxon and its ilk go on raping the American people, let’s cut education and health care and make up the deficit by…taxing WiFi? Words fail me almost as badly as this presidency has failed the U.S.

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  4. Considering Bush has a poor track record as a businessman, this proposal makes sense. Doesn’t it!?

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  5. Sounds like the Telecom companies have lobbied to slow the growth of WiFi, which scared the bejeebers out of them.

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  6. Douglass Turner Monday, February 6, 2006

    Hang on here.

    Where the hell are our WiFi lobbyists? Hello? This is Washington, not Cupertino. Gotta play the game.

    If WiFi movers and shakers don’t have the stomach to grease some palms they should not be suprised bullshit like this goes down.

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  7. You’ve got a point there Douglass. The question is “Are their any WiFi lobbyists?”

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  8. [...] I just spotted this on Om Malik’s blog. So Shrub is putting forth a budget plan for the coming fiscal year that includes $2,770,000,000.00 (that’s almost 2.8 trillion) in spending. That is almost $400,000,000.00 more than he proposes to take in in revenues. He has come up with a brilliant way of trying to make up some of that deficit. He wants to tax unlicensed spectrum. For those who don’t know most radio spectrum is licensed so that you have to have a license from the fcc to broadcast on those frequencies. Radio and TV stations and cellular phone companies all have licenses to broadcast on the frequencies they use. The cellular companies have to pay for their frequencies. There are certain frequency bands that are set aside as unlicensed spectrum for use by lower power devices. The most common of these are 900 MHz and 2.4 and 5.8 GHz. These frequencies are used by devices like cordless phones, garage door openers, microwave ovens and in recent years wireless networking gear. Devices that operate at these frequencies are not required to be licensed by the fcc and users don’t have to pay any fees to use them other than buying the gear in the first place. But now shrub wants to tax unlicensed spectrum. How that would be implemented is not clear, but it just seems like a really bad idea. What are they going to do, tack extra fees on wifi gear and cordless phones? or are they going to cruise around sniffing for unlicensed frequencies and then knocking on doors with invoices for taxes? [...]

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  9. [...] Ahora que ve que esto es algo mas que una moda, y que puede suponer suculentos negocios y servicios, al “amigo” Bush se le ocurre decir que está estudiando poner una tasa por el uso de la tecnología wifi. [...]

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  10. [...] If you can’t balance the budget, why not tax Wi-Fi? This is exactly what President Bush is proposing and its making the tech community crazy. Om Malik sees it as evidence of the serious disconnect between Washington DC and Silicon Valley. I have no idea what exactly he would be taxing: access points? nodes? wireless service? any device with Wi-Fi such as a laptop, a Nokia 770 tablet or a Wi-Fi enabled phone? In Municipal Wireless/Regulatory Watch Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2006 [...]

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  11. I am a Democrat who was/is outraged by this proposal. I forwarded it to a well connected Republican who told me the following… “They are not threatening unlicensed… this is a threat to un-auctioned, such as satellite, Broadcast, landmobile, certain fixed point point, etc.” According to my guy, they do not intend to tax wifi…

    Om, you might want to check it out and let us know what the real deal is here…

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  12. [...] EDIT: looks like this comment made Om do an about-face and print this article in retraction so I guess I need to follow suit… okay, after 2 seconds of deliberation, I take back everything I said about Wi-fi being taxed, but I stand behind all the Bush jabs lol Revenue, Wi-fi, wifi, Iraq Save this story to your del.icio.us account [...]

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  13. [...] Om Malik on Broadband – Bush: lets tax WiFi [...]

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