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Category: Telecommunications



  • TPA Opposes FCC Chairman Wheeler's 'Revised' Set-Top Box Proposal

    Michi Iljazi on September 9, 2016

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    WASHINGTON, D.C.
    – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) slammed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler’s latest iteration of his “set-top box” proposal, which continues to rely on misguided policy and questionable authority.  On Thursday, Chairman Wheeler laid out a new approach to phase out traditional set-top boxes after his original attempt to mandate the unbundling of content failed to garner support due to the threat it posed to content creators and other stakeholders in the video marketplace. The new plan the Chairman is hoping to implement would use “compulsory licensing” as a way to phase out the set-top box. This new approach presents all sorts of problems, as the compulsory licensing that Chairman Wheeler appears to have planned for would put the FCC in charge of licensing and distributing creative works, a power they have never had nor were ever intended to have. This new plan from the FCC once again threatens creators and puts copyright at great risk and threatens consumers and taxpayers.

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  • TPA Survey and Report Reveal Failures of Government Owned Internet Networks

    Michi Iljazi on August 26, 2016

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    WASHINGTON, D.C.
    – Recently, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released results of a national phone survey along with a new analysis of twelve failing taxpayer-funded municipal broadband networks around the country. The phone survey showed that the vast majority of Americans are strongly opposed to government-owned internet networks. The new report titled, “THE DIRTY DOZEN: Examining the Failure of America’s Biggest & Most Infamous Taxpayer-Funded Broadband Networks” details 12 of the country’s failed Government-Owned Networks (GONs) and how taxpayers have been paying billions of dollars for the failures. Click here for poll results and here for the report.

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  • TPA Releases Survey Results and Report on Failed Government-Owned Internet Networks

    Michi Iljazi on July 28, 2016

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    WASHINGTON, D.C.
    – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released results of a national phone survey along with a new analysis of twelve failing taxpayer-funded municipal broadband networks around the country. The phone survey showed that the vast majority of Americans are strongly opposed to government-owned internet networks. The new report titled, “THE DIRTY DOZEN: Examining the Failure of America’s Biggest & Most Infamous Taxpayer-Funded Broadband Networks” details 12 of the country’s failed Government-Owned Networks (GONs) and how taxpayers have been paying billions of dollars for the failures. Click here for poll results and here for the report.

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  • IP Concerns Continue to Grow for FCC AllVid Proposal

    Michi Iljazi on July 19, 2016

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    FCC Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    It should come as no surprise that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is having a hard time selling their AllVid (set-top box) proposal. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to oppose the proposal, which would require traditional pay-for-TV providers to make video programming available to third-party devices. The cost and negative impact the proposal would have on consumer choice have been well documented.  Now, voices of concern continue to grow about the problems with the weakening of intellectual property in the new regulation. Last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and other FCC Commissioners appeared on Capitol Hill as the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on oversight of the agency. The set-top box rule was one of many topics that came up during the nearly five-hour hearing (which can be seen here). Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle expressed their reservations about the new FCC regulation. One critical piece of information revealed at last week’s oversight hearing was that there are concerns coming from another government agency, the Copyright Office.

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  • District Court Doubles Down on Flawed Net Neutrality Rules

    Michi Iljazi on June 14, 2016

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    Washington, D.C.-
    Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit came out with their long-awaited decision regarding net neutrality.  And, the news was bad for taxpayers and consumers as the District Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) power grab of the Internet known as Net Neutrality. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has long since warned against increased regulatory measures on the Internet noting that the Internet has thrived because government has, up until now, kept a light regulatory touch on the Internet. Quick reacting business and free market forces will keep the Internet thriving, not slow unresponsive government bureaucracies. A new regulatory regime for the Internet would stifle innovation and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in a newly created bureaucracy. In response to this decision, TPA President David Williams issued the following statement.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full statement

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  • The FCC and Google, Too Close for Comfort

    David Williams on June 7, 2016

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    Cronyism continues to be a problem in Washington with federal agencies creating regulations and policies that favor one company over other companies.  There is no more blatant example of this than what seems to be happening with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Google.  FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has consistently promulgated rules and regulations that benefit Google more than other companies in the tech industry. Chairman Wheeler came to the FCC and promised to be a fair-minded Chairman who would run the agency listening to all ideas and being open to all approaches.  But, the record reflects otherwise. The relationship between Google and the Obama Administration is well documented and it goes back years. A recent report examining White House visitor logs revealed that Johanna Shelton, Google’s director of public policy, has met with administration officials 128 times since President Barack Obama took the oath of office in 2009.

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  • TPA Submits Joint-Filing to FCC on AllVid Proposal

    Michi Iljazi on April 22, 2016

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    The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is moving forward with their latest regulatory proposal, known as AllVid, and the criticism is piling up. AllVid would work by requiring traditional pay-for-TV providers to make video programming available to third-party devices. Chairman Wheeler is choosing sides again, playing favorites and picking winners and losers in what should be an all of the above approach to moving beyond the set-top box structure of how cable entertainment is delivered. Regardless of the authority the Chairman is claiming by way of Section 629 of the Communications Act, stakeholders representing a wide-range of industries continue to present key arguments as to why this is the wrong approach as well as pledge to work with the agency on a better proposal that would ensure that free and fair competition remains the standard. TPA this morning, in a joint-filing with a broad coalition submitted these comments to the FCC on the AllVid proposal. The comments call attention to the key issues that many have with Wheeler’s approach including privacy, consumer choice, market competition, and process. Comments can still be filed today by visiting the FCC’s website here.

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  • TPA Joins Broad Coalition Urging Congress to Move on ECPA Reform

    Michi Iljazi on April 14, 2016

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    The issue of privacy has garnered a great deal of attention lately, particularly with events in the news related phone encryption and data breaches. Privacy is still a concern for all Americans as we move forward in this advanced technological age. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance shares these concerns, and this week we signed on to this letter, made up of a diverse coalition, urging Congress to move forward with reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The reforms would ensure that warrants are granted before law enforcement can collect any emails and/or contents of other private online communications. As technology advances, it is important to make sure that law enforcement has the necessary tools in order to do their job, while making sure to respect privacy concerns of groups and individuals.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • Government broadband is in fact, a horrible idea

    David Williams on March 7, 2016

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    This article originally appeared on AL.com on March 2, 2016


    A Feb. 10, 2016 story that ran on al.com mischaracterized the Taxpayers Protection Alliance's (TPA) stance on government-owned broadband systems in general and on Alabama's plan to build government networks to serve its schools and libraries in particular. According to the article, I said the proposal to allow public school systems to build their own high-speed networks was not a "horrible" idea. In fact, it is. First, the plan is a waste of money because it would spend federal tax dollars to build infrastructure and offer a service that the private sector already finances and provides. Here are the facts: according to Education Superhighway, 92 percent of Alabama schools "have the fiber connections needed to meet bandwidth targets." That figure mirrors statewide broadband access rates. There are only 256,000 people in Alabama who do not have access to wired broadband service of any kind, meaning more than 93.4 percent of Alabamians have access to broadband at home if they want to purchase it. An even higher percentage of residents – 99.9 percent – have access to wireless broadband service. There are 117 broadband providers in Alabama and about 81 percent of consumers in Alabama can choose from more than one provider.

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  • New Report on D.C. Streetcar Reveals Questionable Spending of Taxpayer Money

    Michi Iljazi on February 27, 2016

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    Taxpayers Protection Alliance Releases Report on DC Streetcar Spending

    With Service Set to Begin, New Report Details Millions of Dollars in Taxpayer Funded Expenditures on Marketing & Communications

    (Washington) – This week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a new report detailing questionable spending for the marketing and communications operation for the soon-to-be launched D.C. Streetcar.  To date, the 2.4-mile project has cost $200 million, or $83 million per mile. Last year, TPA submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) requesting all expenditures related to marketing and communications for the streetcar project between January 1, 2011 and July 27, 2015.  After exhaustive and extensive research of thousands of pages of FOIA-related documents from DDOT, TPA identified more than $2 million of taxpayer money in costs devoted to marketing, public relations and communications for the project.

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  • New Report on D.C. Streetcar Reveals Questionable Spending of Taxpayer Money

    Michi Iljazi on February 23, 2016

    dc streetcar report

    Taxpayers Protection Alliance Releases Report on DC Streetcar Spending

    Just Days Before Service Set to Begin, New Report Details Millions of Dollars in Taxpayer Funded Expenditures on Marketing & Communications

    (Washington) – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a new report detailing questionable spending for the marketing and communications operation for the soon-to-be launched D.C. Streetcar.  To date, the 2.4-mile project has cost $200 million, or $83 million per mile. Last year, TPA submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) requesting all expenditures related to marketing and communications for the streetcar project between January 1, 2011 and July 27, 2015.  After exhaustive and extensive research of thousands of pages of FOIA-related documents from DDOT, TPA identified more than $2 million of taxpayer money in costs devoted to marketing, public relations and communications for the project.

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  • FCC Chairman Wheeler Opts for More Regulations by Resurrecting AllVid Proposal

    Michi Iljazi on February 17, 2016

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    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its current Chairman Tom Wheeler aren’t very good at many things, but one thing Wheeler’s FCC excels at is expanding the regulatory reach of the agency. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) remains constantly engaged in the fight against the Wheeler-Obama “net neutrality” Internet regulations, and the increasing number of municipal (i.e. taxpayer-funded) broadband systems in cities across the country. The FCC is once again trying to expand its regulatory reach; this time it is Chairman Wheeler’s recent proposal for rulemaking on unlocking set-top boxes for cable television. The future of set-top boxes has been an oft-discussed telecommunications topic for years.  Set-top boxes are how many cable customers receive their content from local cable companies such as Verzion, Comcast, Time Warner etc. As technology advances and consumers feel the squeeze of increasing hardware costs, many individuals are looking for a better way to have their services delivered. Section 629 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Competitive Availability of Navigation Devices, lays out the impetuous for what the FCC has been trying to accomplish with set-top boxes. Previously, the agency (taxpayers) poured more than $1 billion into the failed CableCARD program, and now they want to resurrect a proposal, known as “AllVid,” that has been repeatedly fought every step of the way, and for good reason.

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  • The Latest DISH On Washington Front Groups

    David Williams on February 1, 2016

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    This article appeared in The Daily Caller on January 27, 2016

    The growth of new technologies in cable broadband in recent years has greatly expanded the reach and value of its services. Whereas cable itself was once king, broadband now thrives with the emergence of streaming platforms and new social networking tools, all of which we can access on multiple mobile devices. As a result, spectrum demand nearly outpaces supply, and industry stakeholders and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulators are scrambling to ensure there is enough spectrum to support the growth of wireless innovation. Unfortunately, not all participants in the industry have played by the rules. DISH Network recently deceived the FCC and undercut its competitors by circumventing the rules of the agency’s spectrum auction. Now, the company is trying to deceive the FCC again by backing a front group fighting the merger of Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable. Knowing DISH’s reputation and its own previous efforts to merge, it is essential that policymakers and the public cast a wary eye on the company’s actions.

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  • South Mississippi Cities Deserve Better Than Government Broadband

    David Williams on January 14, 2016

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    This op-ed appeared in the Sun Herald on January 2, 2016

    Mississippi will receive $1.5 billion as part of its settlement from the British Petroleum oil spill. A new plan proposes to use a significant portion of that settlement to build a government-owned broadband "fiber ring" connecting several South Mississippi cities including Biloxi, Gulfport and D'Iberville. Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich said the total cost of the network, which officials hope will eventually encompass 12 cities and three counties, could top $100 million. While broadband service is an important tool for students, business owners, job seekers, public safety and health care professionals, spending the BP settlement money on a network owned and managed by the cities is a waste of public funds and puts taxpayers on the hook for future financial exposure. And it is hard to imagine that residents in Biloxi will tolerate the delays the Fiber Ring installation will cause in the current infrastructure projects on the Point.

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  • Washington's Anti-Merger Agenda Threatens Pro-Consumer Deals

    David Williams on January 4, 2016

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    This article ran in The Daily Caller on December 16, 2015

    More than 112 mergers and acquisitions have been announced in 2015, totaling more than $4.6 trillion in value. That makes this year the most active in history. But regulators in Washington have a dysfunctional disposition when it comes to mergers and acquisitions these days – the combination of anti-merger attitude and corporate cronyism. At present, the federal government is suing to block a deal between Office Depot and Staples, while a number of other deals have fallen through namely, General Electric-Electrolux, Bumble Bee-Chicken of the Sea, Pepco-Exelon, and Sysco-U.S. Foods, to just name a few. While some proposed mergers may seem anti-consumer and anti-competitive, the federal government should not take an activist role in the process.

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  • TPA Urges House Members to Press FCC Members on Municipal Broadband

    Michi Iljazi on November 17, 2015

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    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent a letter yesterday urging House members to use today's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversight hearing in the Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee as an opportunity to raise important questions regarding the agency's actions on preempting state laws around the country as it relates to municipal broadband. The FCC must answer for their role in overreaching into the states, without proper authority, on broadband expansion. 

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • Stuck in the Regulatory Stone Age, FCC Trying to Hold Back Lyft

    Michi Iljazi on November 11, 2015

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    The growth of government comes in some of the most obvious and costly measures for the economy by way of wasteful spending and higher taxes.  But, another way that big government wreaks havoc on the private sector is through regulations.  The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has been a repeat offender when it comes to using regulatory power to stifle growth and investment in certain parts of the telecommunications sector. Now, their reach is broadening beyond telecom and hitting in parts of the private sector that could have harmful consequences going forward for a variety of industries. In September, the FCC cited Lyft for what they deemed violations of consumer protections relating to automated messaging for mobile users.

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  • TPA Submits Testimony to Massachusetts Legislators Opposing Municipal Broadband Bill

    David Williams on November 10, 2015

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    Massachusetts State House (Boston, MA)

    Municipal broadband, or government broadband, has been an increasing problem for taxpayers. Local lawmakers use it as a “shiny object” sold as a new, better, and more affordable alternative to private sector broadband options. Unfortunately these networks are expensive and unnecessary, usually costing taxpayers more while failing to deliver the quality of service that’s promised. TPA has been working to fight and expose government owned networks (GONs) all around the country and the latest example comes from Massachusetts. Today, lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy will consider testimony on a bill that would move the state closer to their own government broadband service. Yesterday, TPA submitted a letter as testimony, urging the committee members to oppose the bill.

    Click "read more" below to see the full letter:

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  • TPA Urges Congress to Act on Reforming Video Marketplace Laws

    Michi Iljazi on October 13, 2015

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    Congress has been slowly moving toward reforming many of the country’s outdated communications laws to better serve taxpayers and consumers. TPA has been agressive in calling for faster action on Capitol Hill, but unfortunately that has yet to materialize. However, recently the FCC took action on their own to make important changes to some of the rules that govern the video marketplace, but that doesn't mean Congress should abdicate their responsibilites to the federal agency. Keeping that in mind, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent the following letter to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, as well as the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It's imporant for Congress to maintain their proper role without letting the FCC take too much action. 

    Click 'read more' below to see the letter

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  • NFL Stadiums, Broadband, and the Dangers of Taxpayer-Funded Shiny Objects

    Michi Iljazi on September 30, 2015

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    Politicians and bureaucrats know that the easiest money to spend money is somebody else’s. There are countless examples of this, but taxpayer-funded NFL stadiums and municipal broadband system show that spending other people’s money is even easier when it is spent on these shiny objects. Recently, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a report detailing the reality of taxpayer-backed NFL stadiums in cities across America. TPA has also been exposing taxpayer funded broadband networks across the country that are costing taxpayers billions of dollars and failing at an alarming rate. TPA’s NFL stadium report documented the use of hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to build stadiums that were aimed at boosting local economies. In 60 percent of the cases examined the poverty rate increased and the median household income decreased.  These were hardly the results that those securing the financing predicted.  And, most certainly, not the results taxpayers envisioned with their money being used as the basis for building these venues. Government broadband is another troubling example of this ‘shiny object’ syndrome that state and local legislators have been taking part in for years. The scam is pretty simple, and horrendously expensive to taxpayers. State governments, prodded on by the Obama administration and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), propose plans for a government-owned broadband network (GON) and use taxpayer dollars to build the infrastructure and maintain the network. Those backing the plan promise it will bring a faster, better, and cheaper internet.  Once the “shiny object” is dangled in front of the press and lawmakers, the network is built and then the frenzy to show its success begins.. Unfortunately, the story takes an awful (and expensive) turn when the network is unsustainable and taxpayers have to provide more money. The GONs are usually failures for reasons that range from unworkable to unmarketable, because despite what some proponents say there is already competition and GONs usually offer service at lesser quality at a similar or higher cost.

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