Beyond Layers

13 Pages Posted: 15 May 2006 Last revised: 23 Dec 2013

See all articles by J. Scott Marcus

J. Scott Marcus

Bruegel; European University Institute - Florence School of Regulation; The Japanese Institute of Global Communications (J.I. GLOCOM)

Date Written: May 9, 2006


A number of leading experts have suggested that the root problem in U.S. telecommunications law and regulation - the partitioning of U.S. law and regulation into various independent "silos" that are subject to entirely different rules - could best be addressed by implementing an entirely new legal and regulatory structure reflecting the layered technological model that underlies the structure of the Internet.

On closer inspection, the layered model provides surprisingly little useful guidance to the regulator, and the guidance that it provides is often misleading. Moreover, it suffers from several profound defects: (1) a regulatory taxonomy that is just as arbitrary, confusing and misleading as the silos that it seeks to replace; (2) a fundamental lack of technological neutrality; and (3) an arrogant assumption that government can predict with certainty that all telecommunications for all time will be based on the model of the Internet.

The layered model is a charming idea whose time has come - and gone. Many of America's best regulatory thinkers have invested a great deal of intellectual capital in an approach that should now be viewed as a dead end. It is time to move on.

Keywords: layered model, antitrust, regulation, telecommunications

JEL Classification: K29, L51

Suggested Citation

Marcus, J. Scott, Beyond Layers (May 9, 2006). Available at SSRN: or

J. Scott Marcus (Contact Author)

Bruegel ( email )

Rue de la Charité 33
B-1210 Brussels Belgium, 1210

European University Institute - Florence School of Regulation ( email )


The Japanese Institute of Global Communications (J.I. GLOCOM) ( email )


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