The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

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A Twentieth Anniversary Not Worth Celebrating

In 1996, Bill Clinton resided in the White House; science produced the first cloned mammal, a sheep named Dolly; folks were dancing the Macarena; and the Simpsons became the longest running prime-time animated series. Unfortunately, not all twenty year flashbacks are as much fun because in 1996, cell phones were the size of a brick and performed two functions -- calling people and text messaging; the Internet was merely a blip on the radar; and, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was enacted.

Broadband as a Moving Target

On January 29, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) redefined what constitutes minimum standards for broadband access, raising the bar from the original standard of 4 Megabytes per second (Mbps) for download speeds, and 1 Mbps for upload speeds, to 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds.

Gadgets, Gizmos, Spectrum and IP

On January 6, the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off in Las Vegas, Nevada. This annual event showcases a multitude of devices and inventions, demonstrating the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of inventors across a wide range of fields.

Running Down the Clock on Internet Taxes

Nothing like waiting until the last minute to do something important. That is exactly what is happening on the Hill this week. The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) is set once again to expire at midnight on December 11, 2015.

Finish Fixing Lifeline, Before Considering Expanding

In 2014, the Universal Service Fund (USF) collected approximately $8.5 billion to support telecommunications programs that include the Low Income support services, Lifeline and Link-Up programs; the High-Cost program; the Library and Schools program; and the Rural Health program. The funding for the USF is found in the charges on consumer’s communications bills as a hidden tax, known as the USF fee.

Capital Investments Don’t Happen Overnight Mr. Wheeler

On February 26, 2015, the three Democratic commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made a monumental decision to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. In other words, they thought it was a good idea to apply an 80 year-old statute intended to regulate the monopoly Bell telephone system to the most compelling and competitive communications and commercial system ever created.

Municipal Broadband Proposal Seeks to Overturn State Laws

The President continued his preview of the State of the Union address on January 14, 2015 by announcing that among the top priorities for this year will be “removing barriers” for faster Internet speeds.

House Passes Permanent Ban On Internet Taxes

Consumers across America are increasingly using the Internet to shop, apply for jobs, perform schoolwork, and email one another.  In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission found in its annual report on advanced communications capabilities that 95 percent of Americans have access to broadband Internet services.  According to the International Telecommunications Union, 84.2 percent of individuals in the U.S.

The FCC’s Newest Motto for Net Neutrality: Three Times is the Charm

It is a sad state of affairs when a federal agency continues to waste taxpayer dollars on a concept that failed, not once but twice to pass muster with the court.  On May 15, 2014, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler brought up for a vote a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that has the potential to increase government control over the Internet.  On a party-line vote, the proposal was passed.

STELA Takes Center Stage at Hearing

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology is slated to hold a hearing on the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (STELA) on March 12, 2014.  This hearing opens a window of opportunity to discuss outdated regulatory schemes, such as retransmission consent agreements, and must-carry provisions of the Cable Act of 1992.

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