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The Need for Speed

The Need for Speed: A New Framework for Telecommunications Policy for the 21st Century

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 90
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  • Book Info
    The Need for Speed
    Book Description:

    The twenty-first-century telecommunications landscape is radically different from the one that prevailed as recently as the last decade of the twentieth century. Robert Litan and Hal Singer argue that given the speed of innovation in this sector, the Federal Communications Commission's outdated policies and rules are inhibiting investment in the telecom industry, specifically in fast broadband networks. This pithy handbook presents the kind of fundamental rethinking needed to bring communications policy in line with technological advances.

    Fast broadband has huge societal benefits, enabling all kinds of applications in telemedicine, entertainment, retailing, education, and energy that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Those benefits would be even greater if the FCC adopted policies that encouraged more broadband providers, especially wireless providers, to make their services available in the roughly half of the country where consumers currently have no choice in wireline providers offering download speeds that satisfy the FCC's current standards.

    The authors' recommendations include allowing broadband providers to charge for premium delivery services; embracing a rule-of-reason approach to all matters involving vertical arrangements; stripping the FCC of its merger review authority because both the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department have the authority to stop anticompetitive mergers; eliminating the FCC's ability to condition spectrum purchases on the identity, business plans, or spectrum holdings of a bidder; and freeing telephone companies from outdated regulations that require them to maintain both a legacy copper network and a modem IP network.

    These changes and others advanced in this book would greatly enhance consumer welfare with respect to telecommunications services and the applications built around them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2444-5
    Subjects: Technology, Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    For most of those born after 1985, it is hard to imagine a world without the Internet. Although it was initially supported by government funding, the Internet has emerged as a commercial force through the efforts of actors in the private sector. Telephone companies built its fiber-optic “backbone,” which routes an unimaginably large and increasing volume of data, voice, and video traffic to Internet users through “last mile” connections to homes and offices. These connections exploit wireline and, increasingly, wireless technologies. In addition, millions of privately owned companies, big and small, provide the content on websites and applications (“apps”) that...

  4. 2 Twentieth-Century Telecommunications Policy
    (pp. 13-24)

    The modern communications industry has its roots in a series of technological innovations that over time have radically changed the way that people communicate with one another. The nineteenth century saw the development and widespread use of the telegraph and the beginning of the telephone industry. Toward the end of the century, radio was invented, but it was not commercialized on a broad scale until early in the twentieth century, when telecommunications innovations began to appear at a rapid clip. As radio became the predominant means of mass communication in the 1920s and 1930s, telephones took their place as the...

  5. 3 Toward a Twenty-First Century Policy Framework for Telecommunications
    (pp. 25-36)

    Broadband deployment in the United States is at a crossroads. Although virtually the entire nation is covered by two wireline technologies (cable modem and DSL) for first-generation broadband service, roughly 55 percent of the nation’s households have access to only one wireline provider capable of supporting next-generation or “superfast” broadband as defined by the FCC.⁷ In its sixth (2010), seventh (2011), and eighth (2012) “Broadband Progress Report,” the FCC defined broadband as “a transmission service that actually enables an end user to download content at speeds of at least 4 megabits per second (Mbps) and to upload content at speeds...

  6. 4 Specific Policy Reforms
    (pp. 37-58)

    The types of policies needed to encourage entry among the disparate types of broadband providers are not always the same. Accordingly, we divide our specific policy prescriptions into those that would stimulate investment by fiber operators and those that would stimulate investment by wireless providers. These policies are aimed at promoting competitive entry in markets already served by one wireline provider, typically cable. The chapter ends with our suggestion on how to reform the universal service fund, which is aimed at stimulating entry in the shrinking handful of markets not served by any provider.

    The Federal Communications Commission should eliminate...

  7. 5 The Enormous Benefits of a Broadband World
    (pp. 59-72)

    Initially, the Internet promoted decentralization, by allowing people or firms physically located anywhere on the globe to communicate with each other and to the masses of other people who were likewise linked. For that very reason, some predicted that it would lead to the “death of distance”—to a world in which people could work remotely without having to come into a physical central location and in which, by implication, cities or high-density suburbs would become a thing of the past. That future has never been realized because face-to-face, in-person interactions remain important and therefore so do the places where...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 73-82)
  9. Index
    (pp. 83-90)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 91-91)