Congressional Event Considers Impact of Telecom Regulation
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Although they differed on specifics, a panel of telecommunications experts has concluded that certain changes in public policy could speed a recovery in the telecommunications sector. The experts – Terry Barnich, president of New Paradigm Resources Group, Blair Levin, managing director at Legg Mason, Larry Darby, president of Darby Associates and Thomas Lenard, vice president for research at The Progress & Freedom Foundation – took part in a recent PFF congressional seminar, “The Telecom Meltdown: Causes and Cures.”
“It is very interesting that, at the end of the day, all panelists agreed that the idea of establishing a sunset regime for existing unbundling regulations warrants serious consideration,” said PFF Senior Fellow and Director of Communications Policy Studies Randolph J. May, who moderated the event. “There seems to be a growing recognition that, as competition continues to grow, policymakers should formulate a vision for a deregulatory endgame.”
Barnich: “I think laws and regulation, largely embodied in the 1996 Act, exhibit a prideful conceit in the ability to predict and guide the development of the market through a form of central planning. It seems to me, as an old regulator, that the only thing that really needs to be done is to generally stay the course, buttress the enforcement that is on the books where real abuse occurs, and just get the hell out of the way.”
Levin: “It is not wise for us to have the policy of both regulating wholesale rates and regulating retail rates. If we’re doing wholesale correctly, we don’t need to be regulating retail rates. One of the things needed is for us to be much more serious about moving forward on deregulating all retail telecom offerings…”
Darby: “Congress, the FCC, and State regulators are at a crossroads faced with a critical decision…They must decide whether to pull back on regulation, market manipulation, and industrial planning models. It is not possible for regulators, no matter how smart and well intentioned, to manage successfully market outcomes.”
Lenard: “CLECs would seem to be, to a large extent, an artificial construct of the government. Even with their regulatory advantages, they have had difficulty turning a profit and it looks like few will survive, although there have been some winners along the way.”
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.