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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Aux Armes, Netoyens!

Japanese Ministry Expected

to Propose Wi-Fi Tax

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest (and right wing) newspaper reported yesterday that the Japanese communication regulatory agency, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, will soon propose taxes on unlicensed systems in Japan. Will customs inspectors at Narita Airport check your laptop for a Wi-Fi card or Centrino chip and then charge you an entry fee? Stay tuned!

2 Ministries Split Over Radio Wave Policy

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry intends to publicly voice its

opposition to a plan by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry

to levy fees on a wider range of businesses for their use of radio waves,

according to sources.

The communications ministry plans a revision of the Radio Law to shift to

a new system under which fees will be levied on the expressway-based

Electronic Toll Collection system (ETC), among other information

technology devices. It is thought the new system may push up the price of

certain products and services. METI therefore contends that the new system

would have a negative impact of the spread of IT services.

METI is set to express its opinion via the communications ministry's

"public comment" opinion box early this week. It is highly unusual for a

government body to publicly oppose a policy created by a separate

government department, the sources said.

The policy to widen the range of bodies from which fees are collected from

fiscal 2008 was proposed in a draft report hammered out at the end of June

by an advisory panel to the communications ministry.

The report concluded it was necessary to consider imposing fees on

operators of certain radio wave services--such as ETC systems, wireless

local area networks and personal handyphone systems--who are not required

to obtain government permission to operate their services.

This is because such IT devices transmit relatively weak radio waves and

are not thought to have much impact on broadcast and cell phone services.

The operators of these services are thus exempted from paying to use their

radio waves. It also is considered technically difficult to levy fees on

these devices.

In the draft proposal, the panel proposed tackling supposed inequalities

in the burdens shared by TV stations and cell phone service

operators--with the latter thought to bear most of the responsibility-- in

connection with an envisaged shift to terrestrial digital broadcasting.

The communications ministry wants to use this opportunity to mitigate this

perceived sense of unfairness by widening its collection-fee net, the

sources said.

Fees collected by the ministry from broadcast stations and cell phone

service companies for the use of radio waves are expected to total 65.4

billion yen in fiscal 2007. This figure far exceeds that of the United

States at 34.8 billion yen, and that of Britain at 3.04 billion yen, both

of which have similar fee-collection systems.

The panel also suggested making it possible to alter fees by merely

revising ordinances, rather than revising the current law.

But METI officials have voiced opposition. "If fee changes are only

possible with Cabinet approval, the Internal Affairs and Communications

Ministry would have a free hand on raising charges. This goes against a

state policy to boost the economy via information technology," a METI

official said.

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