Technology & Telecom

WPC's Technology & Telecom Project focuses on wireless regulations, access to broadband internet, wireline regulatory environment, open source issues, telecom regulations, video franchise reform, technology and privacy issues, and more.


The Fallacy of Network Neutrality

October 2, 2008 in Publications

A government policy of “Network Neutrality” would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, to treat all content that goes across their online networks as the same. Consumer groups are pushing for a net-neutrality law that would ban ISPs from prioritizing data streams or charging more for faster Internet service. The issue is at the heart of a debate on how people share information with each other over the Internet in ways that may disproportionately consume available bandwidth.

RFID: Balancing Technology and Privacy

March 1, 2008 in Publications

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, developed over twenty years ago, have become a well-used tool in many different industries. Acting as a next-generation bar code, an RFID system consists of a small microchip and an antenna placed on a product that sends information a short distance via radio waves. Similar to a bar code, the RFID chip holds inventory information related to the product to which it is attached. An RFID-tagged product can be easily tracked as it moves through the various stages of commerce; but the distance the information is transmitted varies from direct contact to several feet, which helps control who gets access to the data on the tag.

Learning Online: An Assessment of Online Public Education Programs

March 1, 2008 in Publications

In May 2005, the legislature unanimously passed SB 5828, a bill to allow public school districts to teach students through online learning programs, and to allow those students to receive their share of state educational funding. The vote on passage was 97 to zero in the House and 41 to zero in the Senate. Governor Gregoire signed the bill on May 10th. During committee hearings, the Washington Education Association (WEA), the state’s powerful teachers’ union, testified in favor of the bill, as did the Christian Homeschool Network.

Leaving Well Enough Alone: State Wireless Regulations Could Harm Consumers

December 9, 2007 in Publications

Of all the technological inventions over the last two centuries, none seems to have penetrated American households as profoundly as the wireless telephone. It took more than 90 years for landline service to reach 100 million consumers. It took over 21 years for 100 million consumers to buy a color television. But in less than 17 years wireless phones had reached 100 million consumers.

It's Time to Modernize Our State's Ma-Bell Era Telecom Laws

February 16, 2007 in Publications

One of the basic tenets of government since the early 20th century, both nationally and locally, has been to protect. Protect consumers, employees, employers, and many more stratifications. Sometimes protection was warranted; and other times government regulators made mountains out of molehills.

Reform Video Franchises for Cheaper, More Competitive TV Services

January 8, 2007 in Publications

Video franchises are the revenue sharing agreements that cable TV companies sign with local governments in return for the exclusive right to sell video services to customers. Because local and municipal governments own so much of the cable TV and telephone infrastructure, TV and telephone companies entered into franchise agreements with those local governments for the right to use those lines. The TV/Telephone company would give a portion of their profits to the government for the “exclusive” usage rights.

Better Prices and Better Services for More People

January 8, 2007 in Publications

Franchise reform, the movement to replace local regulatory regimes that govern legacy cable monopolies with statewide franchise agreements that encourage competition and improved service, has taken on new urgency. Encouraged by telephone companies eager to provide an array of new broadband video services to anxious customers, ten states—Texas, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, California and Michigan—have enacted bipartisan statewide franchise reform since 2005.

Bring the Competition Revolution to Cable T.V.

April 17, 2006 in Publications

Washington Policy Center consistently promotes a simple principle - competition is good for consumers. In our free economy competition is what drives excellence, innovation and, more importantly, low prices, meaning a better life for all the citizens of our state. Nothing is more motivating to business people than the daily knowledge that their customers will walk the minute they are not satisfied with either the price or the quality of the service being offered. That is why it is so important for government officials not only to refrain from blocking consumers' voluntary choices, but to actively promote competition when advances in technology make new options available.

"E-Waste" Mandates Should Be Trashed

March 18, 2005 in Publications

Haste maketh waste in the fast-paced world of technology. Every year, Americans trash two million tons of old computers and other forms of electronic waste. While that’s a tiny fraction of the nation's total waste stream, the issue of what to do with all the "e-waste" is creating hype and hysteria among state and federal lawmakers.

A New Way to Make a Phone Call

May 18, 2004 in Publications

We live in a world where leaps in technology happen on a regular basis. The latest jump is new technology that lets telephone users make calls over the internet. Called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the new service will allow a person to talk to anyone in the world for a fraction of the cost of a traditional long distance call.