Monday, January 31, 2005

"Getting Real At The FCC"

You have to suspect that something is happening out in this country when the editorials at venerable (and notably conservative) newspapers like the USAToday and Business Week start to notice that the telecom monopolies are bad for America and bad for business. (The local chamber might take note.) In the latest instance Business Week inks: "Commentary: Getting Real At The FCC."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which regulates telecommunications in the United States and is charged with making sure that natural monopolies that dominate that realm act in the best interest of the country and its people. Business Week believes that under outgoing chairman Powell the balance has swung too far towards the monopolists at the expense of the competition that funds both growth and fair pricing.
"as the agency wrestles with the issues raised by these dazzling [new technological] developments, its new chairman must avoid the trap into which Powell fell: He came to hold an unshakable belief that technological advances would sweep aside the necessity for regulation."
This sort of ideological idealism is simply at odds with conditions in the real world and Business Week recognizes it.

The commentary moves through media consolidation, universal service issues, digital TV spectrum, and forcing the Cablecos' (and the Bells should be included) to not discriminate against services carried over IP that compete with services they offer (such as VOIP Quality of Service Issues). The conclusion: there's still a lot of need for regulation. It's very gratifying to see that at least one national reporter has done his homework. The final sentence serves as well to end this post as it does to end the commentary:
Maybe one day, a sufficient number of new technologies will compete vigorously enough with one another that the FCC will be free to step aside. But for now, the regulatory hand is still needed to ensure a smooth transition to that future.

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