The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Eighteen Years and Counting

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On February 8, 2014, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 will turn eighteen years old.  For most eighteen year-olds this is a major milestone in life.  Gaining a sense of maturity; showing that one is ready to face the world.  You even get to vote. 

However, for a law that regulates an innovative and stunningly evolving industry such as communications, eighteen years is a long time.  Communications is much different today than it was in 1996.  Wireless phones, tablets, and other devices allow us to communicate in ways not even imagined in 1996.  The computing power of a large PC now fits in the palm of the hand.

Today’s communications landscape is far different than it was in 1996:  cell phones for average consumer use were few, cable providers offered limited channels, and the Internet was typically accessed through a dial-up modem.  Among the fastest growing industries, the technology and telecommunications sectors now provide voice, video, and Internet services to users around the globe.  Yet, despite the innovations in technology and telecommunications, the industry is still hampered by laws and regulations that have not kept pace.  It is time to revisit the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and provide forward thinking reforms that will allow for continued growth in new ways of communicating. 

Recognizing the need to modernize the Communications Act to address the vast industry changes, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced on December 3, 2013, that the committee would be undertaking a multi-year process to review the regulatory burdens imposed on the telecommunications industry under the Communications Act of 1934, and amendments to the law such as the Telecommunications Act of 1996, with the intent to revise and update the law and bring it into conformity with cutting edge innovations.

Continuing to apply twentieth century rules and regulations to twenty-first century disruptive technologies and services will stymie innovation in a competitive marketplace. 

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