The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Telecommunications

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.

Keeping Rates Technology Neutral

Americans across the nation are increasingly accessing broadband services using a variety of tools and connecting not only through wireline services, but also with their wireless devices.  As demand grows for increased connectivity, so does the need to expand the infrastructure these devices rely upon.

Clarity Needed in Taxation of Digital Goods

With technology changing the way consumers listen and view music and videos, state and local governments are now looking toward taxation of digital goods and services to increase their tax revenues. Currently, 17 states require by statute that taxes be paid on digital goods and services, and another eight states plus the District of Columbia draw this authority from their departments of revenue regulations or case law.

The IP Transition Is Coming

An innovative and ever changing communications landscape benefits everyone. This is one of the reasons the IP transition is an important component to the future of communications. While the evolution of the transition from copper to fiber may not necessarily be on everyone's radar screen, how this transition is managed will have ramifications for years to come. Proper preparation for the IP transition is key to ensuring success.

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.

The Need for More Spectrum Auctions

A May 11, 2015 report from the Brattle Group estimates the value of the 645.5 MHz of licensed spectrum currently in use at almost $500 billion. Beyond the monetary value of this spectrum are the services provided to consumers using licensed spectrum through their mobile devices. According to the report, economists have estimated that the total social benefits achieved from using licensed spectrum are at least 10 to 20 times the direct economic value of the spectrum itself.

Time to Reform FCC’s Designated Entity Program

There is a problem when a large business is able to use a federal program designed to help small and minority-owned businesses in order to obtain discounts from the government.

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.

On Title II, Just Say No to FCC Overreach

Back in the 1980s, First Lady Nancy Reagan had a slogan to go with her anti-drug campaign, "Just Say No."  Perhaps this same slogan should be used in the ongoing debate over the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) efforts on net neutrality and Title II reclassification of the Internet.

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