House Commerce Committee

What Does ‘Competition’ Mean At The FCC?

Posted by | Regulatory State, Wireless | No Comments

The question I would ask Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler at tomorrow’s congressional oversight hearing is, how does the agency define “competition”? The answer to this one question—the FCC does not have a definition of competition that it applies consistently—is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the agency.

Chairman Wheeler chose “competition, competition, competition” as his guiding principle without defining what “competition” means at the FCC. Relying on a guiding principle with no specified meaning is like steering a ship with no rudder: There is no telling where the ship (FCC) will end up after it leaves port (e.g., initiates a new regulatory proceeding).

The FCC’s rudderless approach to competition results in discriminatory regulations that erode public trust in the agency’s impartiality and the rule of law. For example, scholars on both sides of the aisle have long recognized that the FCC’s use of its merger authority “lead[s] to one set of rules for those who have merged and another set of rules for similarly situated parties who have not.” Even worse, discriminatory regulations that are adopted in the name of “competition” during FCC merger review are not practically subject to judicial review. Read More

A Conversation About Tech Policy with Representative Blackburn

Posted by | Broadband Internet, Wireless | One Comment

I recently had a chance to speak with Representative Blackburn, who was named Vice Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last November and will play a key role in tech policy this year. During our brief conversation, Blackburn demonstrated why she is a rising star among conservatives leading Internet transformation. Here is what Rep. Blackburn had to say:

On the importance of the Internet to the economy:

Interactive technologies are embedded and intertwined into every sector of our nation’s economy. Our global competitiveness requires that we protect the freedom of the Internet and the ability of entrepreneurs to innovate on this platform without government interference.

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Conservatives Are Leading Internet Transformation

Posted by | Broadband Internet, International | One Comment

Last summer I blogged about my expectation that conservatives would embrace the Internet. Though many shared this expectation, I doubt anyone expected the Republican Party platform would provide a vision for transforming our communications infrastructure into the Twenty-First Century, or that conservatives would be leading Internet transformation in 2012. Though progressives are stereotypically viewed as tech-savvy, progressives are now following the lead of conservatives on Internet transformation.

Conservatives started leading on Internet issues early in 2012. Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell was outspoken often and early on the dangers posed to the Internet by the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT-12), which is going on right now in Dubai.

Many in the tech blogosphere initially attacked McDowell. Last February, ExtremeTech said McDowell’s “claims [were] factually inaccurate and hyperbolic,” and that his threat assessment “[was] completely out-of-step with the US government’s opinion.” Though it offered no apology to McDowell, this month ExtremeTech finally recognized that the ongoing negotiations in Dubai “have the potential to completely change the way the internet works, and that is terrifying.”

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Executive Branch Makes Power Grab to Create a New Spectrum Architecture without Congress

Posted by | Wireless | 3 Comments

The findings and recommendations of the PCAST described above are an obvious attempt by the Administration to usurp Congressional authority and muscle it out of its constitutional jurisdiction over commercial spectrum use. And one would expect that some in Congress would be downright angry that the Chairman of the FCC, an independent agency, is supporting a Presidential power grab.

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