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[ NNSquad ] [dave@farber.net: [IP] Re: BOY DO I AGREE WITH DAVID djf Senate Finance Committee's tax credits for broadband]

----- Forwarded message from David Farber <dave@farber.net> -----

Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2009 10:29:38 -0500
From: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
Subject: [IP] Re:  BOY DO I AGREE WITH DAVID   djf Senate Finance Committee's
	tax credits for broadband
Reply-To: dave@farber.net
To: ip <ip@v2.listbox.com>

Begin forwarded message:

From: "David P. Reed" <dpreed@reed.com>
Date: February 5, 2009 9:43:30 AM EST
To: dave@farber.net
Cc: ip <ip@v2.listbox.com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Senate Finance Committee's tax credits for broadband

Rather than analyze the complex web of potential, yet unproven,  
unintentional consequences of this bill, I offer the following thought:

What aspects of this bill, if any, would engage the creative,  
entrepreneurial and open engagement of a large part of the American  
communications industry in building out a society where we are all *better 
connected* and better able to exploit what has been shown to be the core 
contributions of the Internet platform as it has rearranged all of society, 
all value chains, all political processes, etc.?

I submit it contains NO ways in which creativity and entrepreneurship are 
engaged. (and be clear, entrepreneurship is not a matter of greed for money 
- it is a passion to realize ideas at scale).

Instead, the bill is largely a pile of payoffs, starting with the idea  
that you need to "incent" people to do things with tax credits.  The  
presumption that you need payoffs to get things done is pretty silly.

It may be that the folks who own last mile access franchises are not  
creative or entrpreneurial, but instead the business equivalent of the  
much maligned "ornery mules" who don't do anything unless you kick them in 
the ass.

But mules don't reproduce, thank goodness.  Let's start riding some more 
eager, strong horses instead.

David Farber wrote:
> Begin forwarded message:
> From: Stephen Ronan <sronan@panix.com>
> Date: February 5, 2009 12:31:42 AM EST
> To: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
> Subject: Senate Finance Committee's tax credits for broadband
> For IP if you wish -s
> The broadband portion of the Senate Appropriations Committee's stimulus 
> package bill (1) ameliorated certain aspects of the House bill (2) that 
> had been criticized on the IP list and elsewhere (e.g., by providing 
> more flexibility to NTIA rather than writing speed requirements and 
> references to the FCC 05-151 statement on Net Neutrality into the law). 
> And the Senate Appropriations Committee provisions seem to have 
> bipartisan support, with the whole package winning some Republican votss 
> on the Appropriations Commiteee and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on 
> Meet the Press this past Sunday saying she agreed with broadband and 
> electric grid elements of the package.
> However, the Senate Finance Committee has sought to supplement the  
> Appropriations Commitee's work by adding tax credits for broadband  
> equipment and installation (3). I haven't seen much discussion of the 
> provisions, though Saul Hansell in the NY Times blog pages seemed 
> skeptical (4). Perhaps a prime reason for the absence of discussion is 
> that the bill's language is somewhat opaque.  I have asked around as to 
> whether any party has yet tried to fully explain in clear language what 
> it means.... what its impacts would likely be in regard to cost, jobs 
> created, number of subscribers likely to receive broadband service who 
> would not otherwise have broadband service, or whose broadband service 
> quality is radically improved, and the short term and long-term effects 
> on competition among broadband providers and, relatedly, affordability 
> for subscribers. But haven't yet unearthed any such clear explanation.
> I see that its language largely derives from "The Broadband Internet  
> Access Act of 2000", S. 2698 sponsored in 2000 by the late Senator  
> Moynihan et al. The bill has been repeatedly introduced since then with 
> a few modifications (e.g., increased bit rates), for example:  HR 1818 
> "The Broadband Deployment Acceleration Act of 2007".
> Along the way from 2000 until now, the bill has been stripped clean of 
> pro-competitive aspects. The original S. 2698, sponsored in 2000 by 
> Moynihan, Rockefeller, Snowe, Baucus et al. included this language
> -----------------------------------------
> (a) SENSE OF CONGRESS. It is the sense of Congress that in order to  
> maintain competitive neutrality, the credit allowed under section 48A of 
> the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (as added by section 3) should be 
> administered in such a manner so as to ensure that each class of carrier 
> receives the same level of financial incentive to deploy current 
> generation broadband services and next generation broadband services.
> (b) STUDY AND REPORT. The Secretary of the Treasury shall, within 180 
> days after the effective date of section 3, study the impact of the 
> credit allowed under section 48A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 
> (as added by section 3) on the relative competitiveness of potential 
> classes of carriers of current generation broadband services and next 
> generation broadband services, and shall report to Congress the findings 
> of such study, together with any legislative or regulatory proposals 
> determined to be necessary to ensure that the purposes of such credit 
> can be furthered without impacting competitive neutrality among such 
> classes of carriers.
> http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_cong_bills&docid=f:s2698is.txt.pdf
> ---------------------------------------
> Nothing of such language or sentiment remains in the current version. 
> And in 2000, when these tax credits were originally proposed there were 
> requirements in existing FCC regulation that the deployed fiber or 
> copper would be unbundled and potentially shared among competing 
> providers, requirements since largely or entirely dissolved.
> While the bill may be promoted as encouraging broadband access for  
> unserved people in underserved areas, it seems unlikely that the  
> credits would largely derive from such activity. As Hansell noted, the 
> credits for "next generation" broadband could derive from service to 
> "any residential subscriber." And the credits for "current generation" 
> broadband could be obtained from serving anyone who lives in a rural 
> area.
> So, in regard to tax credits for 100 Mbps by 20 Mbps "next generation" 
> service, it appears that if a broadband provider's current business plan 
> is to bring fiber to the very wealthiest residents of urban mansions, 
> townhouses or condos and to estates in the poshest suburbs or rural 
> areas and to charge the customer an arm and a leg for doing so, the bill 
> would provide a 20% tax credit for making the "last mile" connection to 
> subscriber, whether or not the provider offered any service whatsoever 
> to unserved or underserved persons or rural areas and whether or not an 
> additional job were created beyond the current plan.
> And, in regard to "current generation" service (5/1 wired or 3/.768  
> wireless), if the broadband povider is already planning to persuade the 
> richest residents of rural areas to switch their connection from, say, 
> DSL to cable or from cable to wireless (according to NTCA, 9 out of 10 
> rural youth have a mobile phone and 90% have an Internet connection, 
> half have more than 100 channels of video) 
> <http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/public/workshops/telecom2007/submissions/228096.htm 
> >, the provider could get a 10% tax credit for doing so, regardless of 
> whether it connected an additional person beyond the current plan, 
> connected anyone who currently lacks a connection, lowered anyone's 
> subscription cost, improved the speed of anyone's connectivity or 
> created an additional job.
> I'd be interested to know if there are any folks on this list who  
> believe that the bill is worthy of support in its current form?
> Stephen Ronan
> 1) Senate Appropriations Committee bill (S. 336):
> http://appropriations.senate.gov/
> See: "01/28/2009 Text of S336, the American Recovery and Reinvestment 
> Plan", especially: pp 10-11, 36-38, 47-56 for broadband provisions.
> 2) House Appropriations Committee stimulus package bill:
> http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/RecoveryBill01-15-09.pdf
> See pp 38-40, 45-47, 49-58 for broadband provisions.
> 3) see: "Legislative Text of The Senate Finance Committee Provisions  
> for The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009". 
> http://finance.senate.gov/sitepages/legislation.htm Part VIII is 
> "Broadband Internet access tax credit." That can be found at pp. 61-82.
> 3) "Verizon Could Get $1.6 Billion in Senate Stimulus Plan" by Saul  
> Hansell, Jan 30, 2009
> http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/senate-looks-to-stimulate-verizon/
> -------------------------------------------
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