Recently in the Telecommunications Category

Last week, Apple announced the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which feature a larger and thinner screen like many devices currently on the market offered by Apple's competitors for some time. To date, the new devices have doubled the number of orders placed the first day the iPhone 5 was released. In the wake of Apple's big announcement, it is important to see how far technology has come in the smartphone space. Since the first smartphone in 1994, IBM's Simon, to the introduction of the scrolling wheel by BlackBerry in 2003 and Samsung's launch of the first phablet in 2012, technology continues to make significant strides. Smartphone manufacturers are fiercely competing with one another to bring new features, innovations, and applications to their devices.  Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) has created an infographic that illustrates the evolution of this dynamic market and shows just how far technology has come in a relatively short time - benefiting consumers and business owners alike.  Technological advances in this space directly impact women and minority owned businesses that need fully equipped yet affordable devices to conduct efficient, and successful, business operations. Advancements in smartphone technology have lowered startup costs and improved access to information technology for businesses and help them compete in today's digital economy.


History of the Smart Phone.jpg
Click here to view and download the infographic.

Broadband Plan Anniversary: Some Goals Met but More Work Needed

 

Yesterday, March 16, marked the fourth anniversary of the National Broadband Plan.  When it was released four years ago, this plan was lauded as the FCC's roadmap to universal broadband access, intended to expand access and bring affordable, high-speed broadband connectivity to Americans in every corner of the country.  This connectivity is essential for us all, and in particular for women and women-owned businesses - without it, full participation in our global economy and modern life is virtually impossible. 

 

Here at WIPP, we've long advocated for increased access to affordable broadband service because of the critical role Internet-based networks fulfills for women, as well as for our businesses and loved ones.  Access to fast, modern high-speed broadband connectivity means access to professional opportunities, distance learning classes, telework jobs, civic engagement, and even health care.  It delivers growth opportunities to businesses, helping those businesses run more efficiently and competitively in the global marketplace.  Broadband connectivity also delivers much greater possibilities for higher education, job training, and professional networking. 

 

In the plan, the FCC identified broadband as "the great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century," and set important goals designed to meet that challenge, many of which line up with our own tech principles.  In only four years, the private sector and the FCC have already made incredible progress toward meeting those goals, and we applaud those efforts.  Additionally, the upcoming spectrum incentive auction is a chance to make underused spectrum available to wireless carriers, thereby easing the strain on mobile networks while also funding FirstNet (a nationwide public safety broadband network for first responders) with auction proceeds. 

 

The National Broadband Plan also recognized the vital role that private investment plays in the work to expand access and enhance broadband service.  The plan explained that the old-fashioned "Plain Old Telephone System" network infrastructure was incapable of meeting future needs, and that maintaining that obsolete network required carriers to spend money on lines that hardly anyone relied on anymore.  Meanwhile, consumer demand and continued tech innovation have driven private investment into modern, lightning-fast broadband network infrastructure.  Investment in our country's broadband infrastructure has been substantial: Estimates report that this investment totaled $1.2 trillion between 1996 and 2011. And last year, a White House report said since 2009, private sector investment into these networks came in at over $250 billion. In fact, the top two wireless carriers last year led all companies in all sectors in investing in our nation's future.  

 

Four years ago, the FCC presented a path that leads to expanded access, and those efforts are starting to pay off.  But achieving truly universal access to broadband will not be possible without significant additional private investment.  In order to achieve that goal, smart telecom regulations must be put in place; companies must have regulatory certainty.  Rules that both encourage investment into next-generation networks and that accelerate the movement forward to an all-broadband future will enable continued innovation, economic growth, and universal access for all Americans.  We encourage the FCC to study and learn the realities of today's marketplace, and ensure that any policies and regulations in the future accurately reflect today's dynamic and competitive ecosystem.

 

Think about how many times a day you look at your wireless device, and all of the things you're doing with it. Talking. Checking email. Closing a sale.  Networking. Growing your business. The list can get pretty long.  The latest national wireless tax consumer survey by MyWireless.org shows, it's clear that wireless is a 'must-have' for most Americans today, including small business owners.

According to the MyWireless.org National Tax Survey, more than 80% of wireless consumers, including women entrepreneurs believe their wireless service is an essential part of their daily lives.  They rely upon their wireless devices for work, school, and personal management and feel a wireless device makes them more productive.  In its Economic Blueprint, WIPP outlines telecommunications principles.  Among them is the principle of  keeping the internet, access to it, etc. free of various government regulations that could impede success.

When it comes to taxes the MyWireless.org survey found:

  • Four in five (81%) wireless consumers still think a combined state and local tax rate above the national average rate of 17% for wireless services is too much.
  • A whopping 97% believes the tax rate should be the same or less than the taxes they pay on general goods and services.
  • Nearly two thirds (61%) surveyed support Congress taking action by passing a 5-year moratorium on states or localities imposing any new or discriminatory tax specifically on wireless services.  The moratorium is set to expire this year.

If you believe it's time for Congress to act and pass the 'Wireless Tax Fairness Act' to provide relief and stability to small business owners and consumers like yourself, you may make your voice hear.  Click her to: Take action now!  You may see more at: http://www.mywireless.org/2014/02/wireless-consumers-more-wireless-fewer-taxes/#sthash.WcJmtKuL.dpuf

I would like to call attention to this  letter submitted by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council relative to the upgrade and modernization of our country's antiquated telephone network infrastructure.       WIPP entrepreneurs have said repeatedly that this modernizations is important to spur innovation, investment and ideas.   Certainly it brings us a step closer to realizing the Obama administration's goals set forth in the National Broadband Plan which provided a roadmap of opportunities for the American consumer.    In the letter, MMTC argues for market trials which will lessen consumer disruption - we agree with MMTC and hope, as they outlined in their letter, that the IP network transition will help further competition, universal access and consumer protection and public safety.

If you've ever used your smartphone or tablet to buy and download a digital good or service, such as an app, music, movie, e-book, video game, etc., then you'll want to pay attention. When it comes to how you're taxed for those purchases, there is not a "national framework" or some "rules of the road" for how this growing digital marketplace should be fairly taxed at the state and local level. 


Right now it's possible you could be taxed by several different jurisdictions for the same digital purchase. For example, let's say you pay your wireless service bill in one area code, but you buy something with your device when you're in another one, from a company in yet another part of the country. Under today's tax regulations, it's possible you can be taxed by all three jurisdictions! WIPP follows wireless taxes closely as many small businesses reply heavily upon this technology. We believe it's important to make sure women-owned small businesses wireless consumers are treated fairly and that all of us have a reasonable and sensible tax structure for such purchases.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the 'Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act' (S.1364) last week. This bill would prevent digital goods and services purchases from being subject to multiple and discriminatory taxes. This bipartisan federal legislation would establish a national framework for how this growing digital marketplace should be fairly taxed at the state and local levels.

What the Bill Does

  • The legislation being considered would make sure consumers aren't punished with multiple taxes on digital purchases. It would prevent consumers from being double or even triple-taxed on an mp3, video or on that latest incredible app, as could be the case today.
  • The bill reinforces Congress's important role in making tax policy for commerce that crosses state and international borders. That's more important than ever with so many people making online purchases with their wireless device.
  • It would clearly establish which jurisdiction (the consumer's home billing address, presumably) has the right to tax digital transactions.


 

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