NPR Also Features Telecom Analysis By Post’s Stern
WASHINGTON D.C. - The recent decision by U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson not to seek Supreme Court review of the D.C. Circuit court's rejection of FCC telephone 'unbundling' regulations will encourage facilities-based competition and benefit consumers, according to a former regulator, who took part in a National Public Radio roundtable last night. He said cable and wireless, as well as other technologies, are expanding consumer options.
The decision last week is "an overdue move" and "consumers will see long-term benefits from it," Progress & Freedom Foundation President Raymond L. Gifford said on NPR's On Point interview program last night. He said the action comes after "three failed attempts by the FCC to justify its unbundling mandates" to the courts.
Gifford, the immediate past chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, believes the decision "is going to spur a specific and beneficial kind of competition... facilities based competition." He maintained that the "cable and wireless into the home" and "new technology like WiMax and Ultrawide Band" have expanded the market considerably. Voice over Internet was also discussed. "Very big bets are being made right now by major corporations" in such technologies, he said.
Mark Cooper, research director at the Consumer Federation of America, and Chris Stern, staff writer at the Washington Post, joined Gifford on the NPR program. Cooper argued deregulation is occurring too soon, and suggested market power problems persist. The host of the Boston- and Providence-produced program is Tom Ashbrook.
Gifford said he hopes the "regulatory war of attrition over access to incumbents phone networks" can be resolved soon, adding that Olson's decision "does not eliminate all unbundling rules the FCC is working right now." He added that something has to be done about the legacy phone system, "a vast cross-subsidy mechanism where you held business rates and long distance rates high to subsidize low residential and rural rates."
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.