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
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
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
Posted by MJM at 8:42 PM