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Coming soon? An FCC that handles only radio spectrum?

Posted: , by Maxwell R.

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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?”

Any legitimate universal service concerns could be handled by others: States can subsidize network access as they see fit, the Department of Health and Human Services can incorporate telecommunications and Internet into its assistance to low-income households, and the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] and states can handle consumer protection and ex post regulation. A much smaller independent agency could be created to license radio spectrum, where a spectrum license would be a property right for use and not about content. (The license holder could lease its space to others or use it itself for content or other services.)

Thus, at the end of the day, we don’t need the FCC, but we still need an independent agency.


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

Coming soon? An FCC that handles only radio spectrum?
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posted on 25 Nov 2016, 21:47 2

1. izim1 (Posts: 1259; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


What's with all the question marks on phonearena articles? Why are you asking the readers? Most of us come on the Internet to be given news, not to give news...

posted on 26 Nov 2016, 02:48 1

2. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4783; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)


So essentially this administration's plan is to deregulate everything and remove all consumer protections. Wonder who that benefits?

posted on 26 Nov 2016, 08:01 3

3. tedkord (Posts: 14119; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Why wouldn't they? Removing regulation worked so well with the banks. And, who would trust companies like Comcast, AT&T or Charter to do right by their customers? Such nice, customer oriented corporations.

posted on 26 Nov 2016, 18:18

5. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4783; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)


Truer words were never spoken. Deregulation counts on a couple things above all else, that the companies operating in the industry are ethical, and they put their customers well being ahead of profits. Every industry that has deregulated has gone to crap after it happened.

But if they really think deregulation works, why stop there? Get rid of all the laws as well, use the honor system like they do with these companies. You could get save money by no longer needing law enforcement and the court system. If they don't trust individuals to abide by the laws, in what world to they think a for profit company will be?

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