New Directions for U.S. Telecommunications Regulation? The Comcast Decision and the ‘Third Way’
36 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 10, 2010
A recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision, Comcast vs. FCC, calls into question the FCC’s authority to implement two of the most important policies of the Obama Administration, and of the Federal Communications Commission under the leadership of Chairman Julius Genachowski:
• The implementation of a formal, rule-based regime that would institutionalise protection of U.S. consumers against deviations from the principle of network neutrality; and
• The expansion of broadband coverage in the United States.
This court decision has effectively created a crisis for U.S. telecommunications regulatory policy, but the implications warrant careful analysis. Is Comcast vs. FCC really the end of the world, or does it instead represent a chance for a new beginning?
Following Comcast vs. FCC, there have been efforts in the U.S. Congress to change U.S. law to ensure that the FCC has the necessary authority to implement these programs. Meanwhile, Chairman Genachowski has proposed a sweeping re-thinking of the regulatory policy of the past ten years, the Third Way, that seeks to strengthen the underpinnings of the FCC’s authority under existing law. Either approach represents a major re-thinking of current policy, and either is likely to have unforeseen consequences. This paper seeks to elucidate the implications of such a change.
Keywords: regulation, telecommunications, Internet, broadband, telecommunications service, information service
JEL Classification: H10, H11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation