Hazlett Discusses E-rate on TPI Panel

IEP Director Prof. Thomas Hazlett recently sat on a panel sponsored by the Technology Policy Institute to discuss the future of FCC regulation. He and his co-panelist, Sharon Gillette of Microsoft, disagreed over the efficacy of the FCC’s E-rate program in wiring schools for broadband:

A former FCC bureau chief who now works for Microsoft Corp. today defended the E-rate program and the FCC’s role in overseeing the communications industry against views offered by two academics on a panel at a policy discussion hosted by the Technology Policy Institute.

Thomas Hazlett, professor of law and economics at George Mason University and a former FCC chief economist, said that “schools are not connected because of the E-rate. The schools were connected a long time ago, … and [yet] the money keeps flowing.”

Sharon Gillett, principal technology policy strategist for Microsoft Corp. and former FCC Wireline Bureau chief, responded that the E-rate doesn’t fund the purchase of connection facilities but rather “gave schools the money to rent a wire. … If we’re going to continue that way of doing things, then it [has to be] an ongoing subsidy.”

Other panelists included Prof. John Mayo of Georgetown, former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, and AT&T’s Jim Cicconi. The full article by Lynn Stanton is available in Telecommunications Reports.

Thomas Hazlett on American University Radio

On April 16 IEP Director Thomas Hazlett was invited to a discussion on American University Radio’s Kojo Nnamdi Show about the Google Fiber project in Kansas City and broadband competition. Other guests in the segment were Joanne Hovis (Columbia Telecommunications Corporation and National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors), Councilwoman Cindy Circo (Kansas City, Missouri), and journalist Whitney Terrell.

An excerpt of Thomas Hazlett’s comments:

This idea that the rest of the world is blowing the socks off the US in broadband has got a germ of truth and is about 98% fantasy . . . . The Federal Communications Commission says that over 95% of US households are covered by cable broadband systems . . . . [I]n fact wireless broadband is now available to more than 98% of the country and satellite broadband – 12 Mbps at $50 per month – is now available ubiquitously. The fact is, there has been progress in the market.

The entire 30-minute segment, “Fiber Cities” and Broadband Communities, is available here.