Wall Street Journal review of “The Political Spectrum.”

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Unlocking the Airwaves

In regulating radio, the FCC enacted rules nominally in the public interest, but which actually enriched specific interest groups. Gregory L. Rosston reviews ‘The Political Spectrum’ by Thomas Winslow Hazlett.

Americans enjoy unprecedented choice in communications technology. We have millions of options for digital entertainment, keep a universe of information in our back pockets and can call nearly anywhere on earth for a pittance. To most consumers, government seems a minor player. So what’s wrong with communications regulation?

As Thomas Hazlett explains in “The Political Spectrum,” there are many problems, and they have enormous consequences. Economic activity is increasingly conducted wirelessly, under a regulatory regime…

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Washington Post on “a remarkable new book by Clemson University economist Thomas Hazlett.”

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By Larry Downes

Broadband’s future is in the crosshairs of the FCC’s ‘political spectrum’

The Federal Communications Commission, once a sleepy regulatory backwater, has become a deeply political agency, governed less by the science of radio waves than by pressure from inside-the-Beltway groups. If nothing else, the decade-long debate over net neutrality, reignited this year by Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to undo a 2015 decision to turn Internet service providers into public utilities, makes that clear enough. TV comedians regularly weigh in, while paid protesters disrupt FCC meetings. Pai has even received racist death threats.

How did we get here? The answer, according to “The Political Spectrum” (Yale University Press 2017), a remarkable new book by Clemson University economist Thomas Hazlett, is that the agency began life with a political agenda, one that continues to override its technical experts.

Hazlett, a former child actor who served as the FCC’s chief economist in the early 1990s, knows where the bodies are buried. He tells a chilling story of an agency that has always been both more and less than it appears to be.

On the outside, the commission’s charter is simple: to oversee the assignment of increasingly valuable swaths of radio frequencies, “as the public interest, convenience, or necessity” requires. But throughout the FCC’s nearly 100-year history, there have always been more ominous motives behind the agency’s action — or, in many cases, inaction.

With the skill of a TV detective, Hazlett reveals how the undefined “public interest” standard has proven itself a potent and malleable political weapon. As new information technologies are invented — from radio and TV to cable, satellite, cellular and now broadband — the FCC has wielded its power both intentionally and recklessly to benefit a changing cast of favored industries, restricting competition and all but the most mainstream content.

The result early on was both scarce and homogenized over-the-air content, almost entirely lacking in news or public affairs programming. In 1961, FCC Chairman Newton Minow famously complained that over-the-air broadcasting had become “a vast wasteland.”

What Minow didn’t say, however, was that the barren media landscape was an environmental disaster entirely of the FCC’s own making, aided and abetted by politically connected broadcasters and their friends in Congress. (Sometimes they were one and the same. While a senator, for example, Lyndon B. Johnson was allowed to monopolize Austin’s radio and TV market in exchange for securing the FCC’s budget.)

And where the “public interest” is used to limit who gets a license, the agency also exaggerates claims of spectrum scarcity and invents vague “technical reasons” to justify denying or delaying by decades the introduction of competing new services and new applications.

Often, as Hazlett details, the delays are manufactured by favored incumbents, worried that their technologies will be rendered obsolete and the frequencies assigned to them reallocated for better uses. (To help ungrease the wheels, the Federal Communications Bar Association has more than 2,000 members, mostly in Washington.)

Wireless telephones, for example, were demonstrated as early as 1947 but were rejected by the FCC as a “luxury.” Cellular technology, which vastly increased the capacity of wireless, was ready for deployment by 1973, but had to wait another decade. Cable TV and satellite radio experienced similar delays.

This was nothing new, however. Engineered scarcity and the corresponding need to micromanage both content and technology has poisoned the FCC’s operations from the beginning, Hazlett says, starting with then-Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover.

Hoover deviously orchestrated a breakdown in federal oversight of AM radio licenses in 1926, launching “chaos” in interference and channel-jumping that undid the previous decade of orderly expansion.

The only solution to the “anarchy in the ether” Hoover had created was, conveniently, comprehensive new legislation he previously had been unable to advance. Congress duly enacted the Radio Act of 1927, which created a new regulatory agency that canonized Hoover’s belief that spectrum was a unique and limited public good, licensed only to applicants who proved their willingness to bow to the ever-changing “public interest.”

The age of permissionless innovation in radio was over, along with hundreds of stations — many nonprofits — that were forced to shut down. From then on, innovators hoping to introduce new technologies first must plead their case to the FCC, often waiting decades.

If Hoover, Minow and their congressional co-conspirators are the villains of Hazlett’s tale, its hero is economist Ronald Coase, who argued outrageously in 1959 that airwaves should simply be auctioned to the highest bidder, letting consumers decide the best uses rather than well-intentioned (or not) regulators bestowing “free” licenses with political strings firmly attached.

Hoover was simply wrong: Spectrum was no different from any other critical resource a business needed — and no scarcer. And although the market was far from perfect, Coase argued, allowing regulators to micromanage spectrum under the cover of the opaque “public interest” was worse, introducing vast inefficiencies and unintended consequences. For one thing, unlike the market, there was no accountability when the regulators failed, which they did repeatedly.

It took the FCC 30 more years to hold its first auction, by which time Coase’s work had earned him a Nobel Prize. In the interim, the agency’s parade of disasters plodded depressingly along. Hazlett shows how the FCC serially delayed or destroyed AM radio, and then FM, VHF, UHF, cable, satellite radio, wireless phones, pagers, low-power FM radio, digital TV and satellite Internet — filling what Hazlett calls “the FCC’s start-up cemetery.”

That trend was partly reversed with the remarkable success of smartphones, starting with the 2007 introduction of Apple’s iPhone. As mobile call volumes exploded with better and cheaper technology, the FCC finally gave in to demand for mass market wireless telephones, making new frequencies available beginning in the early 1980s.

The public interest-based application process, however, proved unwieldy. Buried in mountains of paper it had invited, an overwhelmed FCC was forced to conduct simple license lotteries, resulting in immediate license transfers at enormous profit to lucky winners who had no intention of building anything.

Congress, finally seeing how much money it was leaving on the table, authorized the FCC to begin auctioning airwaves to the highest bidder in the early 1990s.

The Internet’s First Amendment: The New Fight For Net Neutrality

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Wednesday, May 31 2017 • 10 a.m. (ET)

Some call it “the First Amendment of the internet”: keep all data flowing free, and fast. The head of the Federal Communications Commission says the Obama-era rules need to change so business isn’t harmed. The net neutrality rules prevented internet service providers from favoring certain sites by intentionally speeding or slowing down user access. Consumer advocates say the move to loosen the rules would largely leave the industry to police itself. How do we keep the internet open, free AND competitive?

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United Airlines’ ‘Re-Accommodation’ Could Have So Easily Been Avoided

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By Thomas Hazlett
May 23, 2017

United’s passenger “re-accommodation” debacle was so easy to avoid. An auction would discover which passengers would be eager to step aside.  United did dangle $800 in flight credits for seats, but that price was wrong. Bidding was curiously halted.  And then United decided to acquire its desired seats the old-fashioned way, caveman style.

How did that work out? Rather than paying what four passengers considered appropriate compensation – say, $1,200 in UAL vouchers and a handful of Chik-fil-A coupons – United is now paying in reduced demand for its services, captured cleanly in a quick $500 million drop in company share prices. Counting that financial hit, the airline overpaid for the four seats it sought to re-acquire by something like $499,998,500.

The outrage of the incident is compounded by the elegant simplicity of the alternative.  It is a wretched tooth cavity so painlessly flossed.

But it happens a lot.

Take radio spectrum, for example. The policy for how to distribute rights to this precious resource – central to the lives of Americans, as well as our wireless economy – was designed by Herbert Hoover in 1927.  The Radio Act gave the Federal Radio Commission (renamed the Federal Communications Commission in 1934) full reign to determine the use of radio frequencies.  Nothing new could be transmitted into the “ether” without this administrative stamp of approval.  Getting that stamp was not a trivial task, as incumbent licensees were virtually certain to object.  Strenuously.

In 1991, economist Ronald Coase won a Nobel Prize for pointing out that prices, as revealed in auctions, might yield far more intelligence about how resources like spectrum would best be used. The logic has been applied.  Competitive bids have been registered for wireless rights and Coase’s conjecture has played out: Vast mobile networks have been built and some amazing new stuff created. Kids growing up today have access to the whole world, right in their pockets.

But these are auctions are special soirees, organized one by one, each taking years to design and execute.  They leave the great majority of spectrum bands locked away.  Huge space for broadcast TV, set aside between 1939 and 1953, remains walled off for more advanced applications, despite video broadcasting having been superseded by cable, satellite and broadband networks. An FCC license sale just concluded – after an eight-year planning cycle – managed to reclaim a nice slice of that, allowing wireless operators like T-Mobile to pay some $20 billion (in total) to shift the airwaves out of “I Love Lucy” and into 4G and 5G networks.  But this involved just one-fourth of the TV band; three times as much spectrum remains languishing in the world of Lucy and Ricky, Fred and Ethel.

Then there’s the battle over the 5.9 GHz band, a generous space dedicated years ago to vehicle telematics such as crash avoidance and driverless cars.  Proponents of wi-fi, including Comcast and Google, argue vociferously that this spectrum has been wasted while the auto companies have dithered. They would like to see the frequencies re-accommodated, as United might put it, and patched onto the adjacent 5.8 GHz wi-fi band. Car makers like GM and BMW, however, scream like evicted passengers. They have been developing technology and making progress — so they say.

Companies on either side of the debate craft their arguments according to their interests.  That does not make them wrong, but what “alternative facts” can regulators believe?  It is in this fuzzy space that political agents feast.

How much better the results might be were the rival factions to put some earnest money on the table.  By bidding for the right to use the 5.9 GHz band, or its increments, the warring parties reveal their demands, no kicking and screaming required.

The policy tools are off-the-shelf regulatory gizmos.  Take liberal airwave rights sold in the early 2000s, snapped up by multiple firms launching Mobile Television.  This was considered (you may not recall) the Killer App of 2006.  But when three rival systems were deployed – Qualcomm’s Media Flo, investing about $1 billion, was the most promising – consumers decided not to flock.  With flexible use rights, however, the spectrum was not held hostage.  Licenses could be flipped to provide other applications.  They were.  Qualcomm sold its space to AT&T in 2010 for about $2 billion, bolstering the mobile network’s 4G upgrade.  Today, tens of millions of subscribers use that “Media Flo” spectrum to watch “mobile TV” — but via a more efficient network architecture.

When the rules do not support marketplace bargaining, stories about technological advance and consumer welfare tend to turn out differently.

Also in the early 2000s, the FCC (reasonably) okayed the use of satellite frequencies for terrestrial use, as with cellular phone technology.  Satellite phones never caught on.  The spectrum set aside was largely idle.  The rule change could make the satellite band great again:  a new nationwide LTE (4th Generation) mobile wireless network was being constructed with $14 billion in private funding.

Alas, the DoD and a battalion of companies (including airlines) alleged that their GPS devices, which used neighboring frequencies, would be adversely impacted.  The argument was not that LTE phones would spill emissions into the GPS band, but that the GPS radios were obtaining signal information from the formerly quiet satellite band.  The analogy is to a neighbor enjoying a vacant lot next door, and then objecting when a home is built there.

The kicking and screaming by powerful vested interests won the day. The FCC abruptly reversed course and revoked its permits. The new network went bankrupt, losing $4 billion already sunk.  Silence yet reigns in airwaves that might have been brimming with productive activity.

And those GPS devices?  They were protected, but to little effect.  The vast majority of GPS functionality is embedded in smartphones, which would have been imperceptibly impacted; other gadgets could have adopted inexpensive filters in coming years as the new neighbors moved in.  Mission critical locational monitors could have been upgraded at a tiny fraction of the billions lost.  But because the new network had no way to pay for cooperation, the regulators’ flinch determined the outcome.  U.S. mobile customers lost their chance for a fifth competing network.

Sadly no video went viral.  The eviction debacle went unheralded.

The magic of a nice auction is that it reveals competing values. Efficiency forms of cooperation ease into focus.  Deals can be made that make all concerned better off.  Technological innovation and competitive rivalry are fostered.  And no bloody noses need stain the Twitterverse.

Thomas Hazlett is the H.H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics at Clemson University. His book, The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone, is being published by Yale University Press on May 23. 

From FM to the Smartphone: The Evolution of Radio Media

May 10, 2017

in Radio, Technology

Thomas Hazlett—

The Age of Wireless has triggered excitement, disruption, and challenge. Debates rage on about the value of social media, how to deal with the threat of cyber hacking, and the regulation of emerging networks. But beneath it all lies a hardened policy structure that doles out radio spectrum rights. Continue reading

Herbert Hoover’s Radio Malware Turns 90

The Radio Act of 1927 has enjoyed a nice, long life. It’s past time for a retirement party.

| February 24, 2017

On February 23, 1927, Babe Ruth had still to hit 60 home runs in a season. Yet President Calvin Coolidge would that day sign a bill that would establish how radio spectrum—the “economic oxygen” of the emerging information age—would still be governed 90 years later. Markets would be pre-empted, no ownership of the “ether” would be permitted. Public administrators would dole out privileges to deploy wireless networks according to the “public interest.”

Today, the Radio Act is gasping, choked by its contradictions. While the system continues to drip out dabs of bandwidth when far fatter dollops would spur great leaps forward, the members of the Federal Communications Commission are celebrating the close of a year-long auction of radio frequency rights, fetching $20 billion in winning bids. This is the sort of market-based process the Radio Act was designed to avoid.

Over time, regulatory failure has thankfully given way to more open markets. The evolution of vibrant mobile data networks—nowhere prescribed or mandated in law—is an emphatic endorsement of the power of policy liberalization. Yet the ghost of Herbert Hoover, the driving force behind the Radio Act, still haunts progress, frequently placing needless obstacles in the path of competitive forces.

Chaos Theory

The fake news of 1927 was later summarized (and promulgated) by the Supreme Court. “Before 1927, the allocation of frequencies was left entirely to the private sector, and the result was chaos…. It quickly became apparent that broadcast frequencies constituted a scarce resource whose use could be regulated and rationalized only by the Government.” In fact, a property system, with first-come rights enforced by the Department of Commerce under a 1912 statute, maintained order and allowed AM radio broadcasting to flourish from its introduction—by KDKA, a Westinghouse station—in 1920. Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce, 1921-1928, defined the rules using common law precedents.

What troubled Hoover was that he had precious little discretion over who broadcast or what they said.

For instance, when Los Angeles evangelist Rev. Aimee Semple McPherson (whose Foursquare Gospel Church owned a station reaching hundreds of thousands) strayed from her frequency slot, sanctions were swift. “Order your minions of Satan to… open my station at once,” the minister telegrammed Hoover. “You cannot expect the almighty to abide by your wave length nonsense.” Alas, He did. And so did Aimee, who returned to her spot on the dial.

Anarchy did not reign. What troubled Hoover was that he had precious little discretion over who broadcast or what they said. Radio was scorching hot as a consumer product, with millions being sold and 1924 being declared “Radio Christmas” by Madison Avenue. It was universally seen as an explosive new social force, and its deep political importance—soon to play out in episodes as disparate as Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” and Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich mobilization—was instantly noted.

Political Spectrum

A coalition formed to seize the moment. Major commercial radio stations that had built-up impressive audiences and, by 1926, were forming networks such as NBC, saw a new “public interest” test for broadcasting to be money in the bank. Such barriers to entry could block upstarts and stifle extensions of the radio broadcasting band. At the same time, Hoover and other powerful policy makers, including the estimable Sen. Clarence C. Dill (D-Wash.), author of the 1927 Radio Act, sought to use licensing to gain leverage over broadcast content. In the asserted quest to control interference, regulators could impose an “equal time rule” and restrict various controversial views (by denying licenses when they were deemed to harm the “public interest”). Hoover spent years trying before finally succeeding in pushing through a Federal Radio Commission in the 1927 Radio Act.

In almost no time, 200 radio stations were forced off the air, nearly one-third of the total. They had flunked the “public interest” test despite being mostly non-profit, with owners including labor unions, universities, and municipalities. The new commission found that the commercial outlets were attracting broad, diverse audiences with uncontroversial entertainment, while owners with a point of view—like the activists behind WCFL in Chicago (with union ties) or WEVD in New York (dedicated to Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs)—were creating “propaganda stations.” The latter were crushed.

As were new competitive technologies. When Edwin Howard Armstrong, a Columbia University professor and later a major in the U.S. Army, sought spectrum space for his revolutionary FM radio in 1934-35, the commission (identical in form, but operating with a name changed to the Federal Communications Commission) dragged its feet. The FCC professed concern that FM would not work as well as existing AM. While an initial and temporary FM band was assigned, it was abandoned in 1945 due to the FCC’s risible theory of sunspot interference. While Armstrong howled in protest, his invention was uprooted and destroyed. He committed suicide in 1954. Decades later, FM—when freed from its shackles—easily overtook AM in sound quality, content, and audience.

The chances of an auction for wireless rights, wrote two FCC members, were about equal to the odds on “the Easter Bunny in the Preakness.”

Economist Ronald Coase got interested in the spectrum question about the time that Major Armstrong was bidding it adieu. He found the government’s justification for central control “incredibly feeble” and theorized that a competitive market system would produce far greater efficiencies. He suggested regulators define private ownership in frequencies, and auction them.

When called to explain his ideas to the FCC, the first question was: “Tell us, Professor Coase, is this all a big joke?” There in the abyss of absurdity the proposal rested. In 1977, commission member Glen Robinson attempted to reprise it, but the idea was again mocked. The chances of an auction for wireless rights, wrote two other FCC members, were about equal to the odds on “the Easter Bunny in the Preakness.”

Liberalization

Alas, in 1994, the Bunny paid off big-time. Auctions, advocated by Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton, were finally authorized by Congress and launched by the FCC. As of the current bidding, the total government take is about $115 billion. But of greater importance, by orders of magnitude, is the expansion of spectrum use rights. What (some) wireless providers are allowed to do has been flat-out deregulated. “Flexible-use” rules permit rights holders to supply whatever technologies, applications, or business models their customers desire and shareholders will support. Competition selects out the winners. This has revolutionized, in particular, mobile wireless markets, where the reforms have gone furthest.

This comes as a blow to Herbert Hoover’s spectrum legacy, a regime of Mother May I? While Armstrong had to gain the favor of regulators for his techno-blast, and died trying, Steve Jobs had an easier path with the iconic iPhone, launched in June 2007. Apple did not have to beg the government for radio access. Instead, mobile carriers, by then equipped with flexible-use licenses, fell over themselves pitching offers to accommodate Apple. The tech innovator chose to effectively buy spectrum rights for its devices via partnerships with, first, AT&T USA, and then carriers around the globe.

Each network has jurisdiction over its airspace, and could approve or reject such offers. In this, it strives to protect radio users (i.e., its cellular subscribers). But, distinct from government actors, these private organizations suffer financially from over-protection.

Market rivalry has welcomed the iPhone, and simultaneously prompted massive upgrades in network infrastructure, advanced devices, and complementary applications. The “dominant” smartphones in 2007—made by Nokia and Blackberry—endured the agony of defeat in the creative destruction that followed. The Apple App Store and Google Play, based on the wildly successful mobile operating system, Android, now serve billions.

The social payoffs are ginormous. More spectrum would make them more ginormous still. The message has leaked to policy makers. In its 2010 National Broadband Plan, the FCC proposed to shovel additional “flexible-use” licenses into the marketplace. Regulators documented that, historically, such efforts take somewhere between six and 13 years, and that these lengthy delays stymie technological progress. With everyone, Republican or Democrat, talking up “infrastructure,” allowing wireless networks to expand with infusions of perfectly excellent—and largely idle—radio spectrum, is manna from Policy Heaven. Where, by the way, Ronald Coase is smiling.

Slouching to Our Wireless Future

The FCC’s 2010 plan targeted the television band for liberalization. It was not a bad choice. Originally set aside in 1939-1953, today’s television dial consumes 49 broadcasting channels. That’s 294 MHz, as much as the total bandwidth held by America’s two largest networks, Verizon and AT&T, combined. But the value of broadcasting as a video delivery system is three generations out of date—displaced first by cable TV in the 1970s and 1980s, then by satellite TV in the 1990s and 2000s, and now by broadband Internet (“over the top”) in the 2010s. Broadcast TV frequencies could be shifted to alternative uses, unleashing amazing new services, at virtually no cost to society.

By auctioning broad “overlay” rights, or by loosening existing restrictions on licensees, markets could expeditiously reconfigure spectrum models.

But the FCC admitted it did not have the political cojones to simply reauthorize licenses, moving “TV spectrum” to new flexible-use licenses. That laid bare the fiction that regulators were actually setting the agenda according to independent, “public interest” criteria. To resolve the impasse, the Commission adopted a two-sided auction plan initially proposed by FCC policy analysts Evan Kwerel and John Williams in 2001. First, TV station owners would state the prices at which they would sell their licenses back to the FCC. Then the Commission would take bids for new flexible-use licenses (allocated TV spectrum). The bids for the new rights would have to at least cover the costs of the TV license buy-outs.

There was a lot more to the process, including an act of Congress (in 2012) and millions in consulting fees for top economic theorists to design rules, procedures, and software. The chairman of the Commission opined that the process was a “Rubik’s cube,” a curious boast given that complexity is so often the enemy of good public policy. Alas, the FCC fell short of its own goals, to put 120 MHz into liberal licenses by 2015. Now the Commission hopes for 70 MHz by mid-2020.

Until the auction officially ends March 30, key details are unknown to the public. (Disclosure: As an economist, I am a consultant to a participating party and, under FCC rules, may not openly discuss bidding specifics until the “quiet period” is lifted.) But the basic regulatory debate was joined back in 2009 when the FCC triggered the policy clock: the FCC has failed to beat the six-13 year policy lag it decried. And, crucially, only about one-fifth of the TV band will be peeled away for flexible-use licenses; the vast majority remains locked up, set aside for the Killer App of 1952.

Better tools for liberalization have been used, and could dramatically expand this incremental gain. By auctioning broad “overlay” rights, or by loosening existing restrictions on licensees, markets could expeditiously reconfigure spectrum models. State of the art technologies could be deployed and radio waves utilized far more productively. Business deals, with rewards for cooperation, would incentivize the efficiencies the government sees available—but which elude policy makers in their overly complicated, too-centralized, execution of spectrum reform.

Unreality TV

Several TV station owners, including Sinclair, Tribune Media, Fox, and Gray, have revealed that they will be selling some of their licenses back to the FCC as per the current auction. They each declared that this would fail to cause “any material change” in their operations. This reflects the general unreality of TV off-air broadcasts. While new networks, including emerging 5G broadband systems, could turn TV channels into gold, the band remains largely walled off in allocations mapped out by administrators laid to rest years before the first Super Bowl was played.

Despite the cries when visionaries detailed the reforms that could rescue airwaves from such oblivion, Ronald Coase was right. Ambitious, market-oriented policies have worked. More would work better. They should not consume the “6-13 year delays” that the FCC has condemned in reports but has been unable to improve upon in practice. If the Easter Bunny can win the Preakness, it is time to bury Herbert Hoover’s big 1927 idea, and let the real sweepstakes begin.

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Obama’s misguided plan to connect schools to the Internet

My new research shows that more Internet access funding doesn’t help students. And almost all U.S. schools are already online.

By Thomas Hazlett

Even during times of political gridlock, connecting schools to the Internet has always received bipartisan support. Politicians ranging from Bill Clinton to Newt Gingrich have endorsed the concept, and the federal government has funneled billions of dollars annually to boost Internet access for students under a twenty-year-old policy called “E-Rate.” Continue reading

Time for the Supremes to Decide ‘Net Neutrality’

rcm_logo_followTime for the Supremes to Decide ‘Net Neutrality’

By Thomas Hazlett & Joshua Wright

The FCC’s dramatic 2015 pivot on Internet regulation sought to envelope advanced broadband networks in the shroud of telephone company rules rolled out in the Mann Elkins Act of 1910. These historic common carriage “Title II” regulations – originally the province of the Interstate Commerce Commission, long ago antiquated and finally abolished in 1995 — were cited as exemplars by the Commission in last year’s Open Internet Order. Continue reading

Hazlett Participates in FCC’s Open Internet Roundtable

MULTICHANNEL NEWS

Wheeler: Net May Be at Regulatory Inflection Point
Asks Whether ‘Terminating Monopolies’ Hold Key To Letting Startups Scale Up

10/02/2014
By John Eggerton

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has at least raised the possibility that the Internet economy is at an “inflection point” at which the government needs to step in to insure the continuing ability of innovative startups to scale up at the pace of high-speed broadband. Continue reading