Coming soon? An FCC that handles only radio spectrum?

Coming soon? An FCC that handles only radio spectrum?
Up until last year, the FCC was largely an industry-facing regulatory broker of sorts. It was created back in the 1930s as part of the Communications Act of 1934, and has a mandate that covers telecommunications utilities in all 50 states.

Then, in the early spring of 2015, the five commissioners voted 3-2 to classify the internet as a utility, rather than an information service, subject to Title II regulations, also written in the 1930s.

That brought a formal doctrine of “net neutrality” to the FCC, and just like that telemarketer robocall interrupts your dinner, the FCC has also planted itself right next to your router. In fact, the commission has also rooted itself next to your wireless service too.

Physical utilities in telecom are further regulated by state utility commissions. Combined with the FCC, these rules dictate when, where, and how much service will be provided for things like plain old telephone service, TV broadcasts, or now, internet connectivity.

Mark Jameson is a professor at the University of Florida, and is also an advisor to president-elect Trump. He envisions an FCC that scales back nearly all of its traditional functions, making way for the Federal Trade Commission, and state regulators to handle traditional telecommunications services and broadcasters, focusing instead on spectrum licensing.

Even then, Jameson argues, spectrum space is being squandered due to dampened investment (as evidenced by lackluster bidding in the current 600MHz auction), prompting his question in an October blog post, “Do we need the FCC?”

Does this mean we may see Jameson take the helm from current FCC Chair, Tom Wheeler, after Donald Trump is sworn into office in January? That is too soon to call, but given the stack of promises made to scale back regulation, the FCC may find itself on a serious diet beginning next year.

source: Ars Technica

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