Bush to Tax Wi-Fi (or Not…)

According to RCR Wireless News, President Bush today proposed setting "user fees" on "un-auctioned" radio spectrum. The idea is to raise $3.6 billion over the next decade by levying taxes on unlicensed frequencies used for Wi-Fi and similar applications.

The article says it's unclear yet whether the "user fee" or tax would be paid by equipment vendors or end users. As Marlon Schafer points out on the ISP-Wireless list, collecting a tax like that at the manufacturer level would really be the only feasible way to do it.

Sounds like those cheap-as-dirt wireless routers are gonna be getting a little more expensive soon…

Bush also called for the elimination of the Telecommunications Development Fund (which was founded in 1996 to promote universal service and stimulate new technology development), calling it "a poorly performing venture capital enterprise financed by interest earned on spectrum auctions."

UPDATE 2/7: RCR News has a correction — the tax apparently won't hit Wi-Fi after all.

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