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September 26, 2005

Stately progress

Techdirt gives an update on the progress of reforming the 1996 Telecom Act in the USA:

Now, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce committee introduced their own thoughts on reforming the Telco Act of 1996. Again, this bill seems to have a lot of good ideas in it. It takes the states out of the process (which the states will hate), and gives the regulatory power to the feds. This is a good thing, in that it keeps providers from having to obey fifty different sets of laws in order to offer nationwide service.

I don’t agree. One lesson from living in the European Union is that competition between regulatory dominions and tax laws is a good thing. Much as the eurocrats hate it, ideas like the flat tax would be stuck in academia if countries like Estonia hadn’t got in there first and done it before it could be ‘harmonised’ away.

Fixed connectivity is, by definition, a local issue. I don’t see why any supranational or federal rules need be made, beyond ensuring adequate ability of companies to compete across across state boundaries. You need local presence to create the local access network, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you have to adhere to the local rulebook.

Far better to have many experiments in unbundling, municipal networking, etc. and see what really works. Why create a single point of failure in advancing your communications infrastructure by allowing lobbyists to buy laws to outlaw progress nationwide?

The only market that requires contiguous, “flat” regulation is mobile connectivity. Note I say connectivity, not telephony, which is an application. Here, the “50 sets of rules” problem becomes more of an issue; users physically move around between jurisdictions, and it’s important that network architecture is uniform. You shouldn’t, for example, need to block access to smut for just Utah customers whilst having to simultaneously support net neutrality rules for Californians standing next to them.

The applications are better off being subject to jurisdictional competition. Just as American companies like to incorporate in Delaware, and European ones in the UK and Luxembourg, we should allow application services to be governed by a jurisdiction of their choice. Regulatory rules come with costs and benefits, and it should be the end customer who gets to choose the right balance.

Posted by Martin at 10:33 PM

Comments: (post your comment)

Alec Saunders @ September 25, 2005 12:16 AM:

Brilliant. Three thumbs up.

Richard Stastny @ September 25, 2005 03:46 PM:

but not new. What you are basically proposing is the layers model of regulation (e.g. the MCI proposal from Whit). European regulators will like the idea to give up all powers and be reduced to LLU issues.

What is new in you proposal is to layers also the responsibility of the regulators:
L0 (ducts and right-of-way - see Brough Turners presentation at the VON) is on the village level
L1 . disctrict level
up to
L7 - applications (= regulating Google, eBay, etc) is on the UN or ITU level ;-)

atomore sylvester @ September 26, 2005 09:25 AM:

please would like to come to the program and please kindly help me to know how i'm going to do,and more over pleaseif there any thing that i should do,please let me know,thank you so mcuh..

Posted by dymaxion at September 26, 2005 11:34 PM


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