Taxpayers Want the Senate to Pass Telecom Modernization Now!
September 20, 2006
On behalf of the 350,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I urge you to pass a much-needed modernization of the laws regulating the telecommunications marketplace. This issue has been on the drafting board for the last two years, and we believe the expansive bill passed by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 28 largely meets the standards set by taxpayer advocates like NTU. The House has already passed its telecom reform bill, and taxpayers need the Senate to act soon if consumers are to reap the benefits of a more robust marketplace. In particular, we ask that Senators support three reform components:
- Franchising Reform for Video Services. Due to archaic and obstructive television "franchising" rules imposed by localities, cable companies continue to dominate the video services industry to such a degree that they can set prices with very little fear of losing market share to others. These regulations were concocted decades ago and have outlived their usefulness. They now serve to block competition, as new entrants into this market must negotiate franchises in every city and town in which they want to do business. Senators should overhaul or even do away with the video services franchising process.
- Cell Phone Tax Moratorium. States and localities are scrambling to add predatory taxes on wireless phone service to pay for projects that have little to do with improving the communications network. The fees heaped upon mobile service are among the worst of all the "hidden" taxes not readily apparent to the people paying them. Senators should support a three- year moratorium on new state or local cell phone taxes so that citizens aren't abused by governments with questionable spending habits.
- No Internet Regulations. Taxpayer advocates have been fairly successful in stopping efforts to tax the Internet, but some cheerleaders of overbearing government mandates are using the regulatory playing field to trample the Internet with so-called "net neutrality" rules. These dictates would hamstring consumers and prohibit the owners of Internet servers from prioritizing certain transactions, thereby allowing rigid government control over the management of the free-flowing Internet. Senators should keep unnecessary "net neutrality" regulations off the Internet.
The best way to invite new development in communication services while improving the conditions for consumers and existing businesses is to offer a hospitable, low-tax environment. All roll call votes on telecom reform will be heavily weighted in our annual Rating of Congress.
Senior Government Affairs Manager