¿FCC Doing It Again?

Voice Card  -  Volume 25  -  Robert Card Number 4  -  Mon, Jul 27, 1992 12:02 AM

It looks like the FCC is trying to regulate the use of MODEMs again, though it is a more subtle attempt this time. The following should raise a eyebrow or two.

Sub: Re: Alert! - Please Forward!

--- Rebuttal (read original message below first) ---

We wish to thank all readers who also caught this message and replied. *DO NOT write your congresspersons!*

-PACS-L Moderators


From: Dan Lester
Subject: Re: FCC Modem Proposal

The "modem tax" proposal was a genuine item some 6-10 years ago, but was killed off very quickly. This has now become an urban legend that makes its way around the nets every six to twelve months when some "savior" decides it needs to come up again. Each time it happens the FCC is buried in thousands of calls and letters, wasting even more of our tax dollars to process, reply, and so forth. A year or so ago the FCC Commissioner appeared on several popular talk shows and rebutted it and asked that it NOT be repeated. Of course some of the more paranoid net-dwellers see that as "proof" of the "conspiracy" that will "sneak this through".

Unless someone can come up with some VERY SOLID PROOF that this is a live issue again, you can be sure it is the same old story making the rounds. It is part of "silly season" perhaps, as the "Nieman-Marcus Cookies" legend is also appearing regularly on the nets the last few weeks. Maybe we are all just relieved that tax season is over and finals soon will be over.


* Dan Lester
* Associate University Librarian
* Boise State University
* Boise, Idaho 83725

BSU and I have a deal: I don't speak
for them and they don't speak for me.

From: David R. Warner Jr. -- Prof. of Law
Subject: Re: FCC Modem Proposal

The FCC Modem proposal message has appeared on several lists. Those who have attempted to verify it (and I have not) report that there is nosuch proposal pending and that the message is bogus.

------ ORIGINAL MESSAGE ------

Two years ago the FCC tried and (with your help and letters of protest) failed to institute regulations that would impose additional costs on modem users for data communications.

Now, they are at it again. A new regulation that the FCC is quietly working on will directly affect you as the user of a computer and modem.

The FCC proposes that users of modems should pay extra charges for use of the public telephone network which carry their data. In addition, computer network services such as CompuServ, Tymnet, & Telenet would also be charged as much as $6.00 per hour per user for use of the public telephone network. These charges would very likely be passed on to the subscribers.

The money is to be collected and given to the telephone company in an effort to raise funds lost to deregulation.

Jim Eason of KGO newstalk radio (San Francisco, CA) commented on the proposal during his afternoon radio program during which, he said he learned of the new regulation in an article in the New York Times. Jim took the time to gather the addresses which are given below.

Here's what you should do (NOW!):

1- Pass this information on. Capture the information which contains the text you are reading now. Find other BBS's that are not carrying this information. Upload the ASCII text into a public message on the BBS, and also upload the file itself so others can easily get a copy to pass along.

2- Print out three copies of the letter which follows (or write your own) and send a signed copy to each of the following:

Chairman of the FCC
1919 M Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554

Chairman, Senate Communication Subcommittee
SH-227 Hart Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Chairman, House Telecommunication Subcommittee
B-331 Rayburn Building

Here's the suggested text of the letter to send:

Dear Sir,

Please allow me to express my displeasure with the FCC proposal which would authorize a surcharge for the use of modems on the telephone network. This regulation is nothing less than an attempt to restrict the free exchange of information among the growing number of computer users. Calls placed using modems require no special telephone company equipment, and users of modems pay the phone company for use of the network in the form of a monthly bill.

In short, a modem call is the same as a voice call and therefore should not be subject to any additional regulation.


[your name, address and signature]

It is important that you act now. The bureaucrats already have it in their heads that modem users should subsidize the phone company and are now listening to public comment. Please stand up and make it clear that we will not stand for any government restriction on the free exchange of information.

[end text]

Geoff Speare

Sub: Re2: *ALERT!!! Please pass on

Enclosure: TelcomArts.PKG


Here's two articles that have the true story. Bottom line: Yes, the FCC is once again raising the hairy access charge. But this time much more subtle - only on new services in the Open Network Architecture context. While not immediate, more likely a long term serious tariff on modem access.

Please let me know if you have any more questions on this please link me.


Jim Burger
Director, Government Law