Embracing Reform

Over at Multichannel News, John Eggerton looks at changes that appear to be coming to the FCC:

The incoming Donald Trump Administration is said to have signed off on an approach to remaking the Federal Communications Commission offered by the FCC transition team majority, one that squares with the deregulatory philosophies of FCC Republicans Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, who will be two of the three Republican votes on the commission, and one of them possibly the chair.

That approach would be to restructure FCC bureaus to better reflect the convergence of the digital age as a first step, and, eventually, move functions deemed “duplicative,” like, say, competition and consumer protection, to other agencies, particularly the Federal Trade Commission.

This past September, our own Bruce Mehlman highlighted how the FCC’s current course was hampering investment in critical broadband infrastructure:

Not long ago, there was a bipartisan consensus that the country needed more communications technology and that private investment was the best way to make this happen quickly. The subsequent torrent of infrastructure investment that followed deregulation enabled the Internet economy to take off, empowered consumers and extended benefits to virtually all companies that use advanced broadband technologies, in terms of productivity effects and other benefits.

In recent years, though, we’ve seen a change. Given a choice between encouraging the private sector to invest to build new facilities or to lobby to gain access to the facilities already built by others, it seems that the FCC has chosen “lobby” every time. Such short-sighted policies sell out necessary investments for our future in exchange for instant gratification for some rent-seekers today.

Hopefully, the much-needed streamlining of the Commission is indeed on the way.