Bethany Patterson

T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Will Create a More Connected America

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Wednesday, August 14th, 2019, 1:27 PM PERMALINK

Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai formally announced his support of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. 

Chairman Pai’s support is a major step forward to realizing the benefits of a combined T-Mobile and Sprint. The New T-Mobile will build out a nationwide 5G network, help close the digital divide and be more fully capable of competing against the leading wireless companies. 

Both T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to building out their mid-band spectrum holdings, developing a network that will cover 97 percent of Americans — including 85 percent of rural residents — within three years. The companies have also pledged to create an in-home broadband product that would provide internet to underserved areas across the country.

This will help the millions of Americans without broadband access engage in the digital world. 

It will also strengthen the United States’ position as the global leader in technology. By aggressively rolling out its 5G network, the New T-Mobile will incentivize other carriers to do the same. Since the United States could considerably improve its deployment of mid-band spectrum, this is not an opportunity we can afford to pass up. 

T-Mobile and Sprint have already made significant commitments for their new network, including pledging to not raise prices for three years. The companies will also create 7,500 customer service jobs by 2024 and open 600 new stores across the country. 

By supporting this merger, Chairman Pai is supporting a stronger, more connected America. The FCC should formally approve the T-Mobile/Sprint merger — it will be beneficial for competition, consumers and the American economy.

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart


States Should Support the T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

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Posted by Bethany Patterson, Katherine Ryerson on Thursday, August 8th, 2019, 2:55 PM PERMALINK

The group of state attorneys general who filed a lawsuit to block the T-Mobile/Sprint merger in June continue their misguided efforts despite the Department of Justice’s approval of the transaction in July. 

A combined T-Mobile/Sprint would be highly beneficial for Americans, who would benefit from the greater connectivity, faster internet and economic growth the merger would bring.

Yesterday, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent a letter in support of the merger to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the only Republican attorney general who has joined the lawsuit.

He also sent letters to the attorney generals of Louisiana, West Virginia, Florida and Tennessee — all states that would benefit greatly from the T-Mobile/Sprint merger.

The merger will be instrumental in helping close the digital divide. T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to build a 5G network that will cover 97 percent of Americans — including 85 percent of rural residents — within three years. The companies have also pledged to create an in-home broadband product that would provide internet to underserved areas across the country.

As of now, many Americans do not have adequate access to the Internet, especially in rural areas. Only 62.6 percent of West Virginians and 63.3 percent of Louisanans in rural areas have access to fixed 25 Mbps/3 MBps and mobile LTE 5 MBps/1Mbps, according to the FCC.

Over 2.3 million Floridians and 1.8 million Texans have limited access to high speed internet. Without reliable broadband access, it is extremely difficult to pay bills, apply for jobs, and run successful small businesses.

This problem also greatly impacts children who live in rural areas. More than 25 percent of Tennessee’s middle and high school students do not have home internet access. They cannot complete online school assignments like homework or other activities at home without it. The commitments that T-Mobile and Sprint have made would change these Americans’ lives. 

The merger will also provide more competition in the wireless industry, not less. The New T-Mobile will be a larger third competitor to the two top wireless carriers, which will drive down prices and lead to better service for all Americans. 

In addition, it will create 5,600 new customer service jobs and employ 7,500 more people than Sprint and T-Mobile do separately — not to mention the 3 million new jobs their new 5G network could create. 

In other words, this has the potential to transform the lives of millions across the country. 

The merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would boost competition, create new jobs, benefit consumers, and most importantly, connect underserved Americans to the digital world. Our political leaders should embrace this future of greater connectivity and support the merger. 

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart


ATR Supports Michael Kratsios’ Nomination as U.S. Chief Technology Officer

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Wednesday, July 24th, 2019, 12:50 PM PERMALINK

In March, President Trump nominated Michael Kratsios to be Chief Technology Officer of the United States.

Kratsios currently serves as deputy assistant to the President for technology policy and as Deputy Chief Technology Officer. Since 2017, he has served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he has helped guide the United States’ policies on emerging technologies.

In particular, Kratsios has had an essential role in developing the Administration’s approach to artificial intelligence, 5G and spectrum, broadband, quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, commercial drones and advanced manufacturing.

While at the White House, Kratsios has repeatedly reinforced the value of free-market principles when deploying new technologies—particularly in regards to 5G.

“Empowered by free-market capitalism and driven by bold ideas, Americans created an ecosystem of innovation that is the envy of the world, advancing science and technology and making the Nation prosperous and strong,” he wrote in a memo with Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The Chief Technology Officer ensures the United States remains the global leader in technology and innovation. Because of Kratsios’ history with promoting free-market and pro-growth values, Americans for Tax Reform supports his nomination.

In light of today’s Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation nomination hearing, Americans for Tax Reform’s President Grover Norquist sent a letter to Chairman Roger Wicker and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell in support of Kratsios' nomination. Click here to view Norquist’s letter to President Trump regarding Kratsios’ nomination.

Photo Credit: NASA HQ PHOTO


A Single-Vendor Cloud Strategy Leaves the DoD Vulnerable

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019, 2:12 PM PERMALINK

The Department of Defense (DoD) is marching on with its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud services contract, despite pushback from both the public and Congress. 

The contract’s procurement process has been controversial from the start, and Congress has openly questioned the project, which would award a $10 billion contract to a single cloud services vendor for the next 10 years.

Last month, the House Appropriations Committee announced it will not fund the transfer of data to the JEDI cloud until the DoD reports how it will transition to multi-cloud. The committee even wrote in its report that the DoD is “deviating from established OMB policy and industry best practices, and may be failing to implement a strategy that lowers costs and fully supports data innovation for the warfighter.”

And in October, Congressmen Steve Womack and Tom Cole expressed similar concerns when they asked the DoD’s Inspector General’s Office to investigate why the department continues “to insist on a contract structure that runs contrary to industry best practices.”

Multi-cloud environments are generally seen as more secure and flexible than single-vendor cloud programs. Because of this, the DoD’s pursuit of a single-vendor cloud program could create long-term problems for the department. 

Committing to one vendor for 10 years could hinder the DoD’s ability to innovate. Technology moves fast, and the DoD must adapt to and adopt these new technologies quickly. If the department is locked in with one vendor, it may not be able to utilize cutting-edge technologies from other companies that would strengthen the warfighter. 

The 10-year commitment could also indirectly restrict competition. It will likely be difficult for the DoD to transfer 10 years’ worth of data and applications to another vendor, potentially ensuring that the department continues to use the first vendor, even after the contract has ended. 

But fostering competition is in the best interest of the DoD and taxpayers. Competition incentivizes providers to offer better services and lower costs. According to Trey Hodgkins, CEO of Hodgkins Consulting, a multi-cloud and multi-vendor approach would give the department “full access to the wide range of technical innovations developed in the commercial marketplace, increasing both functionality and security while reducing costs through competition.”

Taking a multi-cloud approach could also help the Pentagon protect itself against cyber attacks. According to Lieutenant General VeraLinn Jamieson, the deputy chief of staff for Air Force intelligence, multi-cloud programs give the enemy a “targeting problem.” 

The Navy, Army and Air Force are pursuing multi-cloud contracts, as is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). After six years with a single-vendor contract, the CIA is changing to a multi-vendor, multi-cloud strategy “to increase access to cloud innovation and reduce the disadvantages associated with using a single cloud service provider,” according to a House Appropriations Committee report

In light of the benefits of a multi-cloud approach, it’s perplexing why the DoD is still pursuing JEDI, especially since it has received a lot of pushback. 

The bottom line is that while the DoD is right to modernize its operations and adopt technologies to bolster the warfighter, it should seriously consider using multiple cloud vendors to most effectively use taxpayer dollars, foster innovation and strengthen national security.

Photo Credit: David B. Gleason


Getting the Facts Right on the T-Mobile–Sprint Merger

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019, 2:06 PM PERMALINK

Yesterday, attorneys general from nine states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit to block the T-Mobile–Sprint merger.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra are leading the lawsuit with the support of the attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The lawsuit filing states that the merger violates antitrust laws and would harm competition, consumers and innovation. In a statement, New York Attorney General James said the merger should be blocked “because this is exactly the sort of consumer-harming, job-killing megamerger our antitrust are designed to prevent.”

The facts are that this merger would boost competition, create new jobs and benefit consumers.   

The merger would bolster competition

The lawsuit states that the merger will harm competition. While it’s true that the top four mobile carriers would be consolidated into three, that doesn’t necessarily lead to decreased competition.

The top two wireless carriers are Verizon and AT&T, which have approximately 150 million and 142 million subscribers, respectively. The two hold around 67 percent of the market share.

Not only do Verizon and AT&T have a huge portion of the market share, but they are massive companies in and of themselves. Both don’t operate solely in the wireless carrier industry; AT&T owns DirecTV, HBO, DC Films and Fandango, and Verizon owns AOL, Yahoo and Oath Media (now Verizon Media).

While Sprint and T-Mobile both have subsidiaries, none are as powerful as the ones owned by Verizon and AT&T.

It’s also important to note that Sprint may not have a future without the merger. In an April 2019 filing with the FCC, the company wrote that it is losing customers and does not have enough money to pay its debts and invest in its networks. “Simply put, Sprint is not on a sustainable competitive path,” the document reads.

Few companies could afford to purchase Sprint’s assets if it were to go under. Perhaps huge companies like Verizon, AT&T or Comcast could, but that wouldn’t help increase competition.

However, if T-Mobile and Sprint merge, they would create the company the New T-Mobile, which would have 126 million subscribers. The New T-Mobile would be more able to fully compete with the current wireless top dogs. The merger wouldn’t create some behemoth that would eat up the entire market; it would actually level the playing field.

The merger would create jobs

In a press conference following the announcement, New York Attorney General James said the merger would result in “the loss of thousands of jobs nationwide.”

The reality is that the New T-Mobile will create more jobs. T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere has pledged to create 5,600 new customer service jobs and 7,500 more people than the standalone companies would have.

Some have claimed that the merger would result in 28,000 lost jobs. That just wouldn’t work from a business operations standpoint. Currently, Sprint has approximately 30,000 employees. If the New T-Mobile eliminates 28,000 jobs, the new company would not be able to operate.

The merger would benefit consumers

The state attorneys general are also concerned about the merger’s effects on rural and lower-income consumers, particularly prepaid users.

Though the attorneys general claim that this will result in higher prices, both companies have said that they will not raise prices for the next three years.

They have also committed to build up our nation’s 5G network, particularly in rural areas. Within three years, the 5G network would cover 97 percent of Americans, including 85 percent of rural residents. The two companies will also create an in-home broadband product, which can also work in underserved areas.

In order to address competitive issues in the prepaid wireless market, the companies have also decided to divest Boost Mobile, Sprint’s prepaid wireless carrier.

Former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who opposed the AT&T–T-Mobile merger in 2011, wrote that T-Mobile has a reputation for serving cost-conscious Americans. She believes the merger will “create an inclusive, nationwide 5G network and services that will greatly improve access to broadband for all New Yorkers, not just the wealthy.”

In other words, the T-Mobile–Sprint merger will help Americans in typically underserved areas stay connected online and participate in the digital economy.

The bottom line is that a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint would help the country—it would close the digital divide and strengthen the nation’s global competitiveness. Instead of muddying the waters with unnecessary lawsuits, we should embrace a future of 5G and increased connectivity.

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart


Spotify Wants to Use Apple’s Services for Free

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Friday, June 7th, 2019, 4:08 PM PERMALINK

Apple Music and Spotify are at war for our ears, and Spotify is fighting dirty.

Even though Spotify has been outperforming Apple Music, it has filed a complaint against Apple in Europe, claiming it is engaging in anticompetitive behavior. The European Commission will now conduct an antitrust investigation against the company.

But can Apple’s business practices really be classified as anticompetitive?

The App Store provides a platform where Apple users can easily access millions of apps from all over the world. Though Apple offers its own messaging, music and internet browser apps, Facebook Messenger, Gmail, Whatsapp, Spotify and Google Chrome are some of the most downloaded apps in the store.

The company reviews 100,000 apps a week and approves most of the proposals. Spotify claims that Apple is purposely interfering with the app’s user experience. But the App Store has released almost 200 app updates for the music streaming company, and Spotify’s Apple Watch app is currently leading in the watch’s music category.

That doesn’t sound like a company trying to squash its competition.

The vast majority of apps in the App Store pay nothing to Apple. The company only collects a commission on digital goods and services sold within the App Store, since those sales are processed through its proprietary payment system.

Free apps that process subscriptions within the App Store using Apple's payment processing system (like Hulu or Pandora) pay a 30 percent commission for the first year of that subscription and 15 percent for subsequent years.

Spotify has circumvented this fee by requiring users to subscribe outside the app. An Apple-user who wants to subscribe to Spotify Premium must sign up through the company’s website; afterward, the user can listen to music on the iOS Spotify app. Apple does not collect any commission on these subscriptions.

But now Spotify wants to conduct sales through the App Store without paying for Apple’s payment processing services.

In a blog post, the company’s CEO Daniel Ek wrote that if it were to pay the commission, it would need to raise its prices and therefore couldn’t compete with Apple Music. So Spotify wants to force Apple to either stop collecting commission on in-app purchases or offer other payment options within the App Store.

In other words, it wants to access Apple’s platform, utilize its software tools and use its payment system for free.

The App Store provides a reliable and secure place for apps to conduct transactions. Spotify doesn’t get to call the shots or demand to use Apple’s digital infrastructure for less money, especially since the streaming company is thriving by having users subscribe outside the app.

It’s time that Spotify becomes willing to pay for the services it’d like to use.

Photo Credit: Marco Verch


Congress, Tell States That Taxing Authority Stops at Their Borders

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Thursday, June 6th, 2019, 9:13 AM PERMALINK

Money-hungry states are attempting to reach past state lines and impose business taxes on companies that aren’t within their borders.

The Business Activity Tax Simplification Act (BATSA), which was just reintroduced this week in the House by Congressman Steve Chabot, would stop greedy state governments from imposing these taxes outside their borders. Americans for Tax Reform signed a coalition letter urging Congress to pass the legislation and stop similar state tax intrusions.

In May, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue proposed to collect corporate income taxes on any business that has “considerable in-state sales derived through either economic or virtual contacts.” In other words, a Nevada-based company that sells products to Boston residents may be forced to pay Massachusetts’ corporate income tax.

The proposal cites last year’s Supreme Court decision on South Dakota v. Wayfair, which enables states to collect sales taxes on out-of-state businesses. Because of previous Supreme Court rulings (most notably Quill Corp. v. North Dakota), many states did not pursue levying business income taxes on companies that don’t own property or have employees within their borders.

Because Wayfair laid the groundwork to collect sales taxes on out-of-state companies, attempts to tax businesses’ income will likely increase.

Considering the huge impact e-commerce has on the economy, this unwarranted expansion of states’ power could have dramatic negative consequences. For one, increasing tax burdens and compliance costs would likely have a chilling effect on the economy as a whole.

Under BATSA, states would only be able to collect business activity taxes on companies that have a significant physical presence in the state. BATSA would set a simple standard: states can only levy business activity taxes on businesses that have property or employees within their borders.

In other words, BATSA would ensure that companies are taxed fairly and uniformly, while creating a clear nexus standard that would eliminate confusion and reduce lawsuits.

If businesses are less worried about unexpected taxation, they can focus their profits—which otherwise would be wasted on unnecessary tax litigation and preparation—on job creation and investment.

Congress has the Constitutional authority to shield citizens and companies from disastrous state tax laws. It should use this authority to keep overreaching states’ hands off of companies’ hard-earned revenues.

View the coalition letter in support of BATSA here.

Photo Credit: IAmSanjeevan


Why the DoD should pursue a multi-cloud strategy

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019, 2:07 PM PERMALINK

In a report released in May, the House Appropriations Committee expressed concern over the Department of Defense’s (DoD) continuing pursuit of its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud services contract.

And rightfully so. JEDI would award a $10 billion contract to a single cloud services vendor, which strays from existing industry best practices to use a multi-cloud environment.   

Taking a single-vendor approach could hurt the DoD’s ability to innovate in the long run by limiting its options. Many businesses today use multi-cloud environments, since they prevent vendor lock-in and allow for greater flexibility. According to the Office of Management and Budget, industries “leading in technology innovation have also demonstrated that hybrid and multi-cloud environments can be effective and efficient.”

Multi-cloud strategies also lower costs. Trey Hodgkins, an information technology consultant, wrote that using “multiple interoperable offerings would ensure that the Department obtains the benefits of competition to achieve best value for both warfighter and taxpayer.”

Using a multi-cloud approach could have positive implications for national security. For one, it could protect the Pentagon from cyberattacks and data breaches. Lieutenant General VeraLinn Jamieson, the deputy chief of staff for Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Cyber Effects Operations, advocates for a multi-cloud environment stating, “If I have a multi-cloud, I’ve given him (the enemy) a targeting problem.” 

The DoD’s interest in the JEDI contract is particularly perplexing considering that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is pursuing a multi-vendor and multi-cloud strategy after six years under a single-vendor contract. The agency is changing its approach “to increase access to cloud innovation and reduce the disadvantages associated with using a single cloud service provider,” according to the House Appropriations Committee’s report. 

The JEDI contract has received a lot of public backlash. The House Appropriations Committee will not allocate any funds for moving data to the JEDI cloud until the DoD’s Chief Information Officer produces a report on how the department will transition to a multi-cloud environment.

The procurement process has also been criticized. Critics claim that JEDI’s strict gating criteria, which determine the companies that qualify for the contract, were created with the winner in mind and intentionally disqualify competitors. Oracle has even filed a bid protest lawsuit before the Court of Federal Claims. 

It’s commendable that the DoD is modernizing its operations, but the department should carefully consider using multiple cloud vendors in order to bolster innovation and, most importantly, national security.

Photo Credit: David B. Gleason


A Deep Dive Into the 5.9 GHz Band

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Thursday, May 30th, 2019, 2:32 PM PERMALINK

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai made waves at the Wi-Fi World Congress when he announced the Commission would consider allocating the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed use.

Twenty years ago, the FCC allocated 75 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum in the 5.9 gigahertz (GHz) band to Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), a technology that allows car-to-car communication. DSRC has never really taken off, and many groups have pushed for shared use of the band.

Unlicensed use allows anyone to use the bands, so long as they aren’t causing harm. Devices and services that use unlicensed spectrum include Wi-Fi, routers, fitness trackers and baby monitors.

The FCC has been aware of the issues surrounding the 5.9 GHz band for a while. In 2018, it completed its first round of research on the topic and concluded that unlicensed use can share the 5.9 GHz band with existing car technologies.

While Chairman Pai’s announcement excited Wi-Fi enthusiasts, plans to move forward were delayed soon after at the request of the Department of Transportation. However, it is likely the FCC will continue reviewing the 5.9 GHz band officially in July.

While safety is obviously the government’s top priority, increased Wi-Fi traffic has made the FCC more invested in freeing up spectrum. However, because the issue involves actors from multiple industries with differing interests, finding a solution will be difficult.

So where do all the parties stand on opening up the 5.9 GHz band?

Chairman Pai

Though the FCC has been exploring its options for months, Chairman Pai kept an open mind in his speech. He gave a set of potential paths to take, rather than a prescriptive plan.

First, the FCC could choose to not change anything. However, he said that “[g]iven the history of and outlook for DSRC, I am quite skeptical that this is a good idea.”

Second, the FCC could allocate the band for Cellular Vehicle-To-Everything (C-V2X) technology. Many in the auto industry are moving toward C-V2X, including Ford, which chose it over DSRC.

Third, the band could be split or shared. One way is to allocate the lower 45 MHz of the band for unlicensed devices and automotive communications technology and reserve 30 MHz exclusively for vehicle-to-vehicle technology. The FCC could also allocate the lower 45 MHz exclusively for unlicensed use and the upper 30 MHz for vehicle-to-vehicle technology.

Fourth, all 75 MHz could be dedicated for unlicensed use.

Commissioners Mike O’Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel

Freeing up spectrum for unlicensed use is not a partisan issue. Commissioners Mike O’Rielly, a Republican, and Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, have been proponents of reevaluating the 5.9 GHz band for years.

In 2015, the two co-wrote a blog saying that “while DSRC has been slowly developing, the demand for Wi-Fi and devices using unlicensed spectrum has exploded.” They advocate for allowing both DSRC and unlicensed use to operate within the band.

Individually, the two support opening up the 5.9 GHz band as well. Commissioner O’Rielly said in 2018 that it is “pure folly to believe that DSRC will ever work as envisioned, as time and technology advancements elsewhere have undermined previous use cases. … I am confident that at least 45 megahertz can be reallocated for unlicensed services without jeopardizing automobile safety.”

Commissioner Rosenworcel said in 2018 that the FCC’s “bet on DSRC didn’t pan out the way we thought it would” and that other countries are able to use less spectrum for vehicle technologies.

When it comes down to making the decision on the 5.9 GHz band, it’s clear where Commissioners O’Rielly and Rosenworcel will fall.

Transportation community

In April, Toyota announced it would stop installing DSRC in its vehicles until 2021, saying that “we have not seen significant production commitments from other automakers.”

However, despite the fact that not many cars use DSRC, the transportation community is still invested in keeping its access to spectrum, citing that the 75 MHz are necessary for saving lives.

While Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao hasn’t released an official statement on the band, several transportation officials have spoken out.

Following the FCC’s announcement in 2018 that the band could be safely shared with unlicensed use, the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a statement, saying that “preserving the 5.9 GHz band for transportation communications is essential to public safety today and in the future.” The statement also urged that no decisions be made before all three rounds of research are completed.

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the Institute of Transportation Engineers have recently released similar statements urging that the 5.9 GHz band be preserved.

Jim Tymon, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials executive director, said that “the FCC should stay the course and not give up the spectrum that the transportation community has been counting on.”

Overall, the decision of how to allocate the 5.9 GHz band will be tough. However, one thing’s clear: the decision will need to be made soon. As Chairman Pai said in his speech, “we can’t keep kicking this can down the road.”

Photo Credit: Alan Stark


FCC Should Think Twice Before Hanging Up on Robocalls

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Thursday, May 30th, 2019, 11:19 AM PERMALINK

Earlier this month, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed new measures that would enable mobile carriers to block robocalls.

“Combatting the scourge of unwanted robocalls has topped my consumer protection agenda since I became FCC Chairman,” he wrote in a blog post.

Specifically, the FCC seeks to allow phone companies to block robocalls for their customers without affirmative consent. In other words, blocking robocalls would become the default setting; customers would not need to opt in for this service, but they could opt out. It would also allow consumers to block calls from any number that isn’t from a pre-approved list or their contacts list.

Moreover, the FCC would like to create a “safe harbor” for companies that block calls that can’t be authenticated through the SHAKEN/STIR system, which combats illegal caller ID spoofing. By reducing the risk of punishment for blocking the wrong numbers, this safe harbor will encourage carriers to block more shady calls.

The FCC will vote on these measures at its open meeting on June 6. All FCC Commissioners—Brendan Carr, Mike O’Rielly, Geoffrey Starks and Jessica Rosenworcel—have spoken out against scam robocalls.

While many people understandably rejoiced at the thought of never receiving another scam call from a “credit reporting agency,” the issue is not as cut-and-dry as it seems.

In fact, these measures could cause major problems for businesses with legitimate uses for robocalls.

Commissioner O’Rielly addressed this concern in a speech for ACA International, a trade group that represents companies in the debt collection industry, “Repeat after me: ‘robocall’ is not a bad word. There are good and legal robocalls, and there are scam and illegal robocalls, and it’s the latter that are wreaking havoc on the nation’s communications networks.”

Commissioner O’Rielly makes a good point. Robocalls aren’t always bad. School districts use them to alert students of snow days; dentist offices use them to remind patients of upcoming appointments; and yes, collection agencies use them to remind people to pay their debts on time.

The truth is that while these calls may be annoying, they serve a legitimate purpose and deliver valuable information to consumers. Most people would like to be alerted of upcoming due dates or possible credit card fraud, and often robocalls are the most efficient way to convey information.

This could put up a roadblock for financial companies, who are required to notify customers in certain situations. In an information breach that affects millions of people, it would be nearly impossible for a company to manually reach each customer in a timely manner.

At the core of it, everybody hates robocall scams, but not every robocall is a scam. For this reason, the FCC should carefully consider how its rules affect legitimate robocalls.

Photo Credit: Ant & Carrie Coleman


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