May Gives Agency a "C" for Mixed Decision, Wonders About Martin
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Borrowing words from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, known as a friend of states’ rights, a noted telecommunications expert is calling today’s FCC decision to allow states ultimately to make key network sharing decisions “surpassingly strange.” So too, he says, are the means by which it came about, referring to the lack of unity between Chairman Michael Powell and Commissioner Kevin Martin. Still, given the agency’s decision to deregulate new networks used for delivering high-speed Internet access, he says the agency deserves the passing grade of “C”.
That expert is Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow and Director of Communications Policy Studies Randolph J. May. The following is his reaction to the votes taken earlier today:
“Overall, I’d give the Commission a ‘C’ for its actions. While this grade may be good enough for a college term paper, it’s not good enough, given the need for deregulation to spur facilities-based investment. The decision to deregulate new fiber investment to provide broadband is a positive. But continuing indefinitely the UNE Platform by turning over the ultimate determination to the states is a negative. To borrow a phrase from Justice Scalia in the Iowa Utilities Board case, Kevin Martin’s vote to grant the states the final say on UNE-P is ‘surpassingly strange’.”
Last month, May released a “scorecard” for analyzing today’s FCC actions. “Seven years after the passage of the telecommunications Act of 1996, real deregulation is coming too late,” May wrote in “The FCC and Telecom Recovery: A Scorecard for Evaluating the New Rules,” his new paper. “Will it also be too little to spur a recovery in the depressed telecommunications and high-tech sectors?”
May answers his own question: “Ever the optimist, I’m hopeful the relief provided on the broadband front will constitute a useful jump start to be followed up with further deregulation. “
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.