Senate considers wireless tax credits for broadband expansion

The Senate Finance Committee is considering a plan to provide tax credits to wireless operators and other players in the telecom industry to increase broadband expansion.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., planned on introducing an amendment that would give a 10 percent tax credit to companies that invest in the expansion of current broadband technology, or 5 Mbps downlink and 1 Mbps uplink. In addition, the amendment also provides a 20 percent tax credit to invest in next-generation broadband, or 100 Mbps downlink and 20 Mbps uplink, in areas where broadband access is sparse or nonexistent.

The tax credits could be a potential boon for Verizon and AT&T, as well as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA, which have been angling for broadband stimulus incentives, and have specifically lobbied for tax credits. The tax credit policy is a different strategy from that of the House, where grants have been provided for wireless broadband access.  The House is expected to vote on President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package later today; however, in that package, the House kept the open access provisions opposed by many in the telecom industry. It is unclear whether the Senate amendment would also include those provisions.     

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