The Eye of the Beholder: Participation and Impact in Telecommunications (De)Regulation

44 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2013 Last revised: 27 Feb 2014

Date Written: August 12, 2013


The California Public Utilities Commission addressed both pricing deregulation and universal service in telecommunications during the last decade. Both decisions had a similar cast of characters, and similarly elaborate processes. In relation to price deregulation, the utilities positions were accepted on every issue addressed; in relation to universal service, consumer organizations’ positions were accepted in about 60% of the issues. This article tells the story of how those decisions were made, and examines the reasons for the difference in impact. The article examines and reject an explanation of capture; accepts in part a focus on the influence of the commissioner in charge of the decision; and suggests that the most important factor in determining impact was the perceptions and expectations of CPUC Commissioners and staff, reminding us of the importance of agency personal and their profound impact on regulatory results.

Keywords: Telecommunications, Capture, participation, administrative law, regulation

JEL Classification: K23, D73, L96

Suggested Citation

Reiss, Dorit Rubinstein, The Eye of the Beholder: Participation and Impact in Telecommunications (De)Regulation (August 12, 2013). 5 William & Mary Policy Review, Forthcoming, UC Hastings Research Paper No. 66, Available at SSRN: or

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss (Contact Author)

UC Law, San Francisco ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States
415-5654844 (Phone)
415-5654865 (Fax)

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