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Category: Telecommunications



  • 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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  • Push To Stop Corporate Welfare And Cronyism Must Extend To T-Mobile

    Drew Johnson on July 15, 2015

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    Update: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold an open meeting in August to have a discussion and vote regarding procedures relating to T-Mobile and upcoming spectrum auctions. The following op-ed is another in a series of a wide range of work TPA has done on this issue.

    This op-ed, written by TPA Senior Fellow Drew Johnson, first appeared in The Daily Caller on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

    Presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s rallying cry for his 2016 bid is one all Americans should support: “it is time to break the Washington cartel” of special interests and career politicians who “on a daily basis are conspiring against the American people.” Because, as Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) argues, “Big government isn’t just inefficient it’s fundamentally unfair.” Corporate cronyism and welfare in the nation’s capital is alive and well. Cruz and Lee are right. But through the darkness there is sometimes light, even in the D.C. cesspool.

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  • From Tennessee to Seattle, Government Broadband is A Bad Idea for Taxpayers and Consumers

    Michi Iljazi on July 8, 2015

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    From the Chattanooga EPB to the Memphis Networx, Tennessee is becoming the leader in wasteful and unnecessary municipal broadband systems.  In particular, the Chattanooga EPB fiber optic municipal broadband system has become the poster child for wasting taxpayer money and bullying tactics (click here for a detailed description of the problems with Chattanooga EPB).  A new report from Seattle, Washington shows that Chattanooga may have competition for the biggest waste of taxpayer dollars. Over the last several months, Seattle has been looking into the idea of providing an expanded broadband service that taxpayers would have to pay for despite the fact that there is already plenty of broadband competition in Seattle. The move toward municipal broadband in Seattle has been marked by many problems. Multiple reports over the past ten years have already looked into the cost of setting up such a program and have always projected that taxpayers would not be able to cover the costs.  Last year, a failed initiative yielded disastrous results for city officials that led to lawsuits against the private sector company they were in line to partner up with to provide the service. The city, led by Mayor Ed Murray, commissioned a report on the cost/feasibility of setting up a government broadband program and the results are in and nobody who has pointed out the consistent failures of government broadband boondoggles should be surprised.

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  • Wave of Recent Studies Highlights Growing Need for More Wireless Spectrum

    Michi Iljazi on June 26, 2015

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    Earlier this month, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) highlighted a report from CTIA (The Wireless Association) that analyzed the direct and indirect value of wireless spectrum on the economy. The findings of the report made clear that wireless spectrum is becoming more valuable to the growing mobile economy.  The need for government to release more of it into the private market is undeniable. On the heels of that report, more information has been published this week that builds upon the overall concern on the need for government to free up more spectrum. Two reports were released this week making the case to free up more spectrum.

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  • Stop Corporate Welfare in Wireless Spectrum Sales

    Drew Johnson on June 17, 2015

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    This article appaeared in The Washington Times on June 1, 2015

    Drew Johnson is a senior fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to limited, responsible government.
    Verizon’s $4.4 billion purchase of AOL, which will do nothing to expand Verizon’s wireline or wireless services, certainly confirmed one thing: Content and video are king, especially when it comes to mobile communications. If Americans want to benefit from the potential of this wireless world, though, consumers better hope Uncle Sam can get its act together. Whether Americans realize it or not, ongoing policy fights in Washington regarding the allocation and selling of electromagnetic spectrum held by the government and private companies hold great ramifications for the future of an information economy increasingly reliant on wireless communications. As I wrote in April, the issue may seem arcane, but determining who owns the spectrum that allows people to use wireless devices is integral to this nation’s growth. With mobile technology expanding to connect daily appliances to the Internet, this scarce resource remains critical to keeping pace globally and continuing our positive enhancements in life. One way the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and to a certain extent Congress, can protect the Internet is to end the troubling trend of allowing corporate welfare to determine who owns the spectrum.

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  • New Study Reinforces Value of Wireless Spectrum

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on June 2, 2015

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    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been a proponent of releasing as much government held wireless spectrum as possible without hindering the abilities of the federal, state, and local agencies to do their job. To understand spectrum and why it’s important, is to think of spectrum like lanes on a highway system with wireless devices being the vehicles using that highway.  The more cars on the highway the more crowded the highway is. The government owns large amounts of spectrum and while they need to keep some for security purposes and other operating needs, there is no doubt that more spectrum is needed in marketplace so that consumers can benefit from businesses who can use it to provide better and more efficient wireless service. Selling spectrum to the private sector could make wireless devices quicker and bring in billions of dollars toward deficit reduction. The issue of making spectrum more available has been addressed in Congressional inquiries, but now there is more recent information just recently released that provides greater proof as to just how key spectrum is to telecommunications.

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  • FCC and DOJ Flex Big Government Muscle As Comcast-Time Warner Merger Fails

    Michi Iljazi on May 6, 2015

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    The increasing power of federal agencies through regulatory and rulemaking pressure is one of the most troubling signs in the growth of big government over the last decade. During the Obama Administration there have been a number of instances where federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have used their authority to circumvent Congress in order to put in place regulations that would otherwise go nowhere in the normal legislative process with the House and Senate. Recent events surrounding the failed merger between Comcast and Time Warner have only served to reinforce the fear of the heavy regulatory hand of government agencies. Last year, Comcast announced a $45 billion bid to merge with Time-Warner Cable (TWC). The deal was set to bring more opportunity for consumers and better quality service to a product from two of the industry’s major innovators. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was just one of many observers who supported the merger moving forward with due diligence and felt it would be a wrong for regulators to stand in the way. There is no reason why the proposed merger should have been subject to any different treatment that what other major transactions have faced in terms of careful examination as it moved through the regular review process. The merger faced opposition from those who felt it would harm the market, but those criticisms couldn’t be further from the reality of today’s economy and landscape. The potential deal between Comcast and Time-Warner would have been a net positive for the economy and consumers.

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