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France Considers Tech Tax to Fund Arts

By David Vranicar
May 14, 2013 9:54 AM PT

Francois Hollande, France's president, is mulling a potential tax on smartphones, laptops and tablets in order to fund the nation's cherished cultural exception.

France Considers Tech Tax to Fund Arts

The revenue generated from such a tax would be earmarked for the cultural exception, which supports French music, film and visual art. France currently spends north of US$130 million a year funding these endeavors, and the tax on Internet-capable devices is viewed as one potential way to protect the nation's creative side "in the face of digital innovation."

Such devices "contribute nothing to the financing of the works that circulate" on them, said Minister of Culture Aurelie Filipetti.

Take that for what it's worth, but France is no doubt a tech-savvy country. The 65 million-person nation purchased 13.5 million smartphones, 4.5 million laptops and 3.6 million tablets last year.

The cultural exception principle, which is written into French law, requires a minimum 40 percent quota of French music on radio stations; state aid for all French films; reduced taxes on movie tickets; and mandatory subsidies from television channels to help fund French films.

In a seeming paradox, the committee tasked with devising new revenue for the cultural exception also proposed dropping penalties for pirating music and videos from about $2,000 to less than $100.

[Source: The Guardian]

Samsung Dabbling in 5G

Samsung announced that it has developed technology that marks a step, at least a baby one, toward 5G.

The company now has equipment that is capable of transmitting data at more than 1 Gbps across more than a mile. 4G, by contrast, operates in the 100 Mbps range, give or take.

Such technology could conceivably allow users to stream ultra high-def video while moving around.

Part of the Samsung push is its adaptive array transceiver, the first-ever technology that allows parts of the super-high-frequency Ka band of the radio spectrum to be utilized for transmitting cellular data. The transceiver has 64 antenna elements to facilitate the transmission.

Breakthrough or not, it will likely be years before 5G is up and running. One hurdle to overcome is finding a system that can cope with the flood of data that likely would be transmitted.

[Sources: Samsung; BBC]

India's Far-and-Wide Coverage Plan

India's Union government wants to move forward with a plan to install some 3,000 mobile towers in remote parts of the country to bolster service, yes, but also fight left-wing extremists.

The proposal would enhance coverage in some of India's "most backward districts and remote villages," including more than 80 "Left Wing Extremism" districts. The Ministry of Home Affairs has backed the plan, saying it would help security forces "in their fight against Maoists," as The Hindu put it -- "Maoists" is used throughout the article.

In other words, the government apparently thinks this shows it is addressing the problem of extremism.

Mobile carriers haven't set up in such areas because of their weak growth potential.

[Source: The Hindu]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.

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