Cable & Wireline Broadband Proceedings Offer Hope
WASHINGTON, D.C. - This week’s ironic policy moment: A market-oriented think tank issues a deregulatory scorecard with a “failing grade” for a conservative administration’s Federal Communications Commission. Is there any hope for redemption? Yes, says The Progress & Freedom Foundation’s hard-grading Randolph J. May, who has a plan in mind. May, who is senior fellow and director of communications policy studies, writes that prompt deregulatory action in the outstanding cable and wireline broadband proceedings would at least minimize the damage done in the Triennial Review order.
Adding grades to the FCC scorecard he published in January, May’s updated scorecard released today – “The Triennial Review Scorecard: A Disappointing Grade” – ranks the FCC, based on its actions this year. In seven of eight categories – one of them is omitted because it will be dealt with in the upcoming broadband proceedings – the agency chose “static regulated competition” over “dynamic regulation.” According to May, this proves “a majority of the Commission is still largely wedded to a vision of static regulated competition in which the agency continues to play an overly regulatory role inconsistent with the market and technological dynamism of the times.”
The omitted item – advocating a uniform deregulatory regime by not subjecting cable or wireline broadband services to unbundling and sharing requirements or Computer II-type separation – provides the FCC the opportunity “to build upon and make meaningful” the action it took “to begin turning away from sharing requirements for new broadband facilities” by “acting promptly to resolve the outstanding cable and wireline broadband proceedings in a deregulatory fashion.”
“It is not hyperbole to say the FCC is truly at an important crossroads,” wrote May in January. “The Commission will be forced to choose between two competing visions of telecommunications regulation” going down “two divergent paths.”
“Seven years after the passage of the telecommunications Act of 1996, real deregulation is coming too late,” May wrote. “Will it also be too little to spur a recovery in the depressed telecommunications and high-tech sectors?” May’s question looms.
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.