Earlier this week, Robert E. Litan penned an editorial for Bloomberg in advance of his new report (co-authored by Afzal Bari) titled “Faster Broadband: Policies and options for spurring expanded access to the next generation of Internet speeds.” Both in his opinion piece and study, Litan argues that when comes to achieve faster broadband, the FCC should be focusing more on spurring competition than on regulations. From the Bloomberg piece:
We are encouraged that the FCC seems intent on proceeding with its spectrum auctions in 2014 (though we wish this had happened earlier), but are less optimistic that the commission will reverse its policies of the past four years that are inconsistent with the deregulatory agenda that would really unleash competition in the broadband market and accelerate the race for faster broadband speeds.
In Litan and Bari’s study, they dig a lot deeper — specifically when it comes to steps the FCC can take:
One policy that would surely help is speeding up the auctions of wireless spectrum. Other deregulatory measures, aimed primarily at reducing the costs and increasing incentives for wireline broadband providers to build fast broadband networks, also are available:
• Removing legacy regulations on telecom carriers designed for outdated copper networks that discourage investments in modern broadband networks.
• Allowing broadband providers to charge for premium delivery services (just as on-line retailers do for more rapid shipping, and airlines and railroads do for first-class seating).
• Adopting the current case-by-case approach to resolving complaints of discrimination against vertically integrated cable video providers for resolving similar disputes in the broadband arena.
• Eliminating duplicative merger authority by making the FCC an advisor on telecom mergers, with ultimate authority resting with the Justice Department, where it belongs.
• Eliminating the FCC’s ability to condition spectrum purchases on the identity, business plans or spectrum holdings of the bidder, practices which inhibit wireless competition to wireline broadband providers.