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Category: Telecommunications

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

    Drew Johnson on July 15, 2015


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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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  • Net Neutrality Regulations Spur Lawsuits and a Fear of a Tax Increase

    Michi Iljazi on April 20, 2015


    Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines to approve a net neutrality plan proposed by Chairman Tom Wheeler that was more than 300 pages long.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was quick to criticize the proposal as completely antithetical to the innovative nature that has been a hallmark of the Internet for nearly two decades. Even though the rules have been published in the Federal Register and are set to  take effect on June 12, 2015, there is a  long road ahead and the battle over the future of the regulation is still far from being resolved. As expected, the FCC decision sparked a number of lawsuits questioning the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet under Title II (click here to read a previous blog posting on Title II). Currently, a total of seven legal actions have been taken against the FCC and their plans for net neutrality. This is not the first time the FCC has been challenged on net neutrality rules in the courts. Last year the FCC lost in Federal Appeals Court against Verizon in which the court held the FCC exceeded their authority with new rules on internet providers.

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  • Florida Governor Rick Scott Seeks Relief for Wireless Consumers

    Michi Iljazi on March 2, 2015


    A number of states around the country have begun legislative work for the calendar year.  While each state has different priorities as well as different challenges, what they have in common is that taxpayers are in need of serious relief.  One state where taxpayers could soon see some good news is Florida, where a new proposal to cut taxes has emerged that could benefit wireless consumers statewide who are feeling the pain of high excise taxes on their cell phone bill. Sunshine State Governor Rick Scott is pushing a massive tax cut that will include a lowering of the state’s wireless tax rate for all cell phone users. Wireless consumers are burdened every month with a slew of taxes that provide little explanation but heavy weight to their bill. Last October, a report from the Tax Foundation found that the average taxes on wireless combining state/federal/local are just over 17 percent.  The report also showed the size and scale of just how many individuals were impacted by wireless taxes noting that 90 percent of adult Americans have a cellphone, and 58 percent of adult Americans have a smartphone. Those in Florida who are a part of that overall 90 percent are now faced with the real possibility that rates could be lowered on that monthly bill, and this is welcome news that Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) supports.

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  • TPA President David Williams: FCC Action Would Harm Local Taxpayers

    Michi Iljazi on February 24, 2015


    Taxpayers Protection Alliance leader discusses the high-cost of government-owned broadband ahead of FCC decision

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams released the following statement today in advance of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote whether to allow two government-owned broadband networks to expand beyond their state-mandated boundaries: “FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will ask his fellow commissioners on Thursday to vote on Chattanooga, Tenn.’s and Wilson, N.C.’s petitions to override municipal broadband laws in their respective states. For the fiscal well being of taxpayers, and in the interest of protecting states’ rights, TPA urges Wheeler’s colleagues to uphold these state laws in Chattanooga and Wilson, which have placed prudent restrictions on government-owned broadband networks."

    Click 'read more' below to see the full statement

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  • Telecom and Technology Offer Hopes for Positive Congressional Reform in 2015

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on January 20, 2015


    This article originally appeared in Roll Call January 20, 2014

    On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will give his sixth State of the Union Address and there is no doubt that the speech will contain familiar themes on policy initiatives his administration has long championed. Perhaps chief among them though is telecommunications policy, an area that Congress and the president must address if the country is to remain competitive around the world. For starters, it has been almost 20 years since the Communications Act has been updated. Coincidentally, the last time the Act was updated, there was a Democrat in the White House and a GOP-controlled Congress. Much has changed technologically in the last two decades, and with the massive change in virtually every facet of telecommunications, it is crucial to make sure that innovation can still be a key ingredient.

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  • TPA's New Year's Resolutions for 2015!

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on December 31, 2014


    The New Year is upon us and it’s time for millions of Americans to make their resolutions for the New Year.  Many folks vow to lose weight by eating a healthier diet and going to the gym.  In a twist on that time-honored tradition, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is urging Congress to get it’s fiscal health back in shape.  We put together a list of our own resolutions for Washington and those politicians who will soon be returning for a new Congressional session.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full list of 2015 New Years resolutions!

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  • Moving Closer to a Communications Act Update as Senate Commerce Committee Advances Legislation

    Michi Iljazi on October 2, 2014


    The more technology advances, the more antiquated our current telecommunications laws become.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has advocated reforming many of the country’s outdated communications laws to better serve taxpayers and consumers. Over the past year we have seen some slight, but meaningful, progress on updating the Communications Act.  Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) deserve credit for beginning this process in the House and we hope that they will introduce, and eventually pass, a bill that modernizes our Nation’s telecom laws. Much of that progress is due to a fundamental and bipartisan understanding that the marketplace has changed greatly since 1996 and legislation is needed in order to catch up with today’s Internet economy. A recent move in Congress, in a rare show of progress, moved the country closer to updating our communications laws. Just a few weeks ago the Senate advanced the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA), which contains key components for new age communications rules.

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  • TPA Submits Comments on Spectrum & Updating the Communications Act

    David Williams & Michi Iljazi on April 24, 2014

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is very interested and concerned as to how Congress will be looking to make changes regarding communications policy and how those changes will impact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the issue of government-owned spectrum. There is no doubt that taxpayers, consumers, and businesses will be impacted by how the committee, Congress, and the FCC proceed. That being said, it is important to take into account where all stakeholders stand on these debates.   TPA is a 501 (c)(4) organization that represents the interests of millions of American taxpayers across the country and as such we feel compelled to submit comments that expressly states recommendations to two questions posed in the recent white paper issued by the committee regarding these issues.

    To read the full comment, click 'read more' below » Read More
  • TPA Joins Coalition Urging House & Senate to Allow Free Market Process to Function in Time Warner/Comcast Deal

    Michi Iljazi on April 8, 2014

    Earlier this year, a deal between Time Warner and Comcast was announced that would provide for the two companies to join, the transaction has been a great deal of discussion not just in the television industry, but also amongst lawmakers in Washington, DC. As for any deal of this signifigance, there will be review and oversight by Congressional Committees with the proper jurisdiction. TPA understands that a process must play out for this type of transaction, but there must also be an allowance of commercial enterprises to conduct themselves as they see fit within full cooperation of legal guidelines and standards already in place. With that in mind, TPA joined with Americans for Tax Reform, American Commitment, Center for Individual Freedom, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Digital Liberty, Discovery Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, Institute for Policy Innovation, and National Taxpayers Union in sending these letters to Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate Judiciary committees expressing the view that this deal represents an opportunity for consumers to benefit, and there should be no reason for not allowing the free market to operate. 

    Click 'read more' below to see the text of the letters » Read More
  • New Study Exposes Flaws with Municipal Broadband

    Michi Iljazi on February 5, 2014

    Chattanooga, TN (courtesy, Wikimedia)

    There is no shortage of things that government thinks it can do better than the private sector and there’s no limit to what government will spend taxpayer dollars on as keenly demonstrated on a regular basis in Washington, D.C. One of the more egregious examples of this regularly occurring phenomenon is the funding of municipal broadband networks. These government-backed operations have been shown to be a waste of valuable taxpayer money with systems that have quality far less comparable to the same work provided by the private sector. A recent study by George S. Ford, PhD, of the Phoenix Center took a close look at these municipal broadband networks and found evidence to suggest that one of the supposed “benefits” of these government programs doesn’t actually exist. The study from Dr. Ford is a direct response to an earlier study that claimed municipal broadband services offered a better deal on the so-called “bundled packages” as compared with private companies. Dr. Ford found the study was comparing plans that weren’t alike and when he made the adjustments, both the public and private sector offered the similar plans at similar prices. And, another difference in price is that taxpayer-funded networks cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars while the private sector networks have ZERO cost to taxpayers. Municipal broadband networks are not only using taxpayer dollars to try and sell something for the same price as a private company, they’re actually selling a less desirable product overall. The New York Times published an article about Chattanooga’s EPB in an article titled “Fast Internet Is Chattanooga’s New Locomotive.” The New York Times painted a picture of a program that boasts some of the fastest Internet speeds in the world, right in rural America. TPA has researched EPB and the facts don’t support the claims by The New York Times (read here). The biggest problem with EPB is that there’s not enough people that use the service to warrant a taxpayer-funded program that remains years after it was first introduced. Most consumers in the city aren’t using (or will probably never use) the gigabit service so there is no reason why taxpayers should be funding the EPB after it has been around for four years and still isn’t providing a unique service in high-demand.

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  • STATEMENT: TPA Praises Federal Appeals Court Ruling Striking Down Net Neutrality

    Michi Iljazi on January 14, 2014

    ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down net neutrality saying that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) exceeded its authority by banning Internet providers from treating traffic differently based on where the traffic was coming from.  According to the Court: “Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such.”This is a major victory for the free market and those who believe that net neutrality would lead to a government takeover of the Internet. 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.

    To read the full release, click 'read more' below'

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  • TPA's New Year's Resolutions for 2014

    David Williams & Michi Iljazi on December 31, 2013


    Every New Year millions of Americans resolve to change their ways and improve their lives by making New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight or changing their behavior to live a healthier lifestyle.  In the spirit of those resolutions, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urges Congress and the whole federal government to resolve to go on a fiscal diet and change their wasteful spending and regulatory habits.  And, we will be following up on each and every one of these issues (and more) in 2014. The list TPA put together includes a wide range of issues that lawmakers have been involved with and the need for action on many of these is more than obivious. The issues include: Telecommunications/Technology, Defense, Taxes, Energy, and Wasteful Spending.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full list of TPA's New Years Resolutions for 2014!

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  • TPA's New Years Resolutions for 2014

    David Williams & Michi Iljazi on December 27, 2013

    new years

    Every New Year millions of Americans resolve to change their ways and improve their lives by making New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight or changing their behavior to live a healthier lifestyle.  In the spirit of those resolutions, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urges Congress and the whole federal government to resolve to go on a fiscal diet and change their wasteful spending and regulatory habits.  And, we will be following up on each and every one of these issues (and more) in 2014. The list TPA put together includes a wide range of issues that lawmakers have been involved with and the need for action on many of these is more than obivious. The issues include: Telecommunications/Technology, Defense, Taxes, Energy, and Wasteful Spending.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full list of TPA's New Years Resolutions for 2014!


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  • In On Going Smart Phone Battle, Government Holds Most Important Card

    Michi Iljazi on August 7, 2013


    The smart phone battle is heating up in preparation for a major marketing blitz from four companies as they see who can outsell each other with their new smart phones.  According to, “In recent weeks we’ve seen endless gossip about the iPhone 5S and budget iPhone 5C. On top of that, there’s also been plenty of speculation around HTC’s One Max phablet, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 and the now-official Moto X.  The next few weeks should see rumours about all these devices reach fever pitch, culminating in their launch either at Berlin’s IFA trade show, which starts on September 6th, or, in Apple’s case, at a special event later in the month.”  What many consumers may not realize is that even if they buy the most advanced (and cool) smartphone, the government, specifically the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), holds the trump card, wireless spectrum, in being able to enjoy the smart phone to its best ability. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been a key advocate of allowing the release of as much government held spectrum as is possible without endangering any abilities of the federal, state, and local agencies to their job. Currently, it is estimated that the amount of spectrum the government has is nearly 60% of what is available and this is something that has been the subject of Congressional inquiries over the last several months.  The sale of this spectrum could bring in $20 billion.
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  • TPA Urges Immediate Action on the Senate’s Bipartisan Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act of 2013

    Michi Iljazi on July 26, 2013


    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been diligent in following activity in Congress dealing with internet taxation issues and there have multiple pieces of legislation that have caught our attention including the Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate, which TPA opposes as it would dismantle proper limits on state tax collection authority while causing serious damage to electronic and interstate commerce. There is now good news on the fight against internet taxation as yesterday the Senate introduced a new bipartisan legislation in the Digital Goods & Services Tax Fairness Act of 2013, which would help protect consumers against a barrage of taxes levied on “digital goods and services on the Web, including downloads of TV shows, movies and apps as online purchases become more mobile.” The bill is authored by Senate Finance Committee members Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and this is not the first time the due has attempted to bring about this type of legislation back in 2011. TPA is pleased to see that they have decided to take similar action this year, especially after the Marketplace Fairness Act  passed in the Senate.

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