The Modem Tax surfaced on a local bboard here in Pittsburgh. An enterprising fellow in our

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The Modem Tax surfaced on a local bboard here in Pittsburgh. An enterprising fellow in our department (David Eckhardt) followed up with a definitive rebuttal from the FCC. Clip-and-save! (Incidentally, the person who posted the MT business and subsequently received massive flames followed up with the observation: I've received mail since then accusing me of posting an urban legend. Well, I checked out the story with a folklorist, and it turns out that it *doesn't* qualify as a real urban legend, but merely an incorrect rumor. So there!) --Sean ``alt.incorrect.rumor'' Smith ****************************************************************************** sean.smith@cs.cmu.edu carnegie mellon computer science posting from PITTSBURGH, the center of the AFUniverse! ****************************************************************************** **************************************************************************** FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION Common Carrier Bureau Enforcement Division Informal Complaints and Public Inquiries Branch Suite 6202 Washington, D.C. 20554 Phone: (202) 632-7553 In Reply Refer To: January 1990 63203 ICB-FS-036 RUMORS REGARDING A COMPUTER MODEM SURCHARGE The FCC has received letters from a number of computer modem users expressing concern about an alleged "proposal" before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would result in a surcharge for the use of computer modems on the telephone network. There is _no_ proposal pending before the FCC that would result in the application of a surcharge for the use of computer modems on the telephone network. The FCC has been informed that various computer bulletin board systems are encouraging computer modem users to write to the FCC and to their congressional representatives to oppose this alleged proposal. The FCC's Common Carrier Bureau (Bureau) staff has contacted several bulletin board systems and requested those systems to advise their users that there is no proposal before the FCC at this time regarding a computer modem surcharge. Bureau staff is continuing to investigate possible sources of the surcharge rumors and to distribute correct information to computer modem users. - FCC - *************************************************************************** Following is another, unrelated, message on the same subject: Date: Fri Apr 30 1993 06:58:32 From: Mike Riddle To: Whomever Subj: Re: MODEMTAX.ZIP Attr: BBSLAW ------------------------------- TO: whomever it was that was asking about a file called "modemtax.zip." It finally showed up on my board, and has to be dismissed as an urban legend. The brief history: no tax is, or ever has been, considered. The brief explanation: In 1987, Docket 87-215, the FCC proposed to increase something called the CALC, the Carrier Access Line Charge. That's something the carriers pay each month that is roughly equivalent to the "FCC Charge" you see on your personal phone bill. The economic effect was disputed, but enough people were convinced that it would raise customer costs on packet-switched networks by $6/hour that the public outrage killed it. In 1989, the FCC proposed something called ONA: Open Network Architecture, Docket 89-79. The proposal seemed innocuous, but the Final Rule reimposed the higher CALC by substituting a complex system of charges for ONA options. Since the earlier proposal had not particularly addressed this, and since in fact the Congress had given rather explicit direction, the industry got off to a late start and had to petition the FCC for a rehearing on the Final Rule in Docket 89-79. The public comment period is long over, and no action has been taken to my knowledge. In the meantime, well-intended but sometimes inept people have kept circulating unspecific files like MODEMTAX and the infamous KGO letter. The "bottom line": without an identifying number and date, such as CC Docket 87-215 (rejected), CC Docket 89-79 (Final Rule Issue, Petition for Reconsideration Pending), S xxx, HR xxx, etc., you don't have enough information to make an informed comment. And the FCC and most congressional offices will quickly discard anything with the words "modem tax", since they've had their fill of uninformed letters, calls, etc. It's kind of like the fable about the sheperd who cried "wolf" once too often. The next time we need to mobilize, not enough people on either side will believe us.

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