Comments of ICLE & TechFreedom, Communications Act Rewrite, House Energy & Commerce Committee
“Twenty years ago, Democrats and Republicans agreed on the need to refocus communications competition policy on promoting competition in an era of convergence, focusing on effects rather than formalism. Unfortunately, that focus was lost in the sausage-making process of legislation – and the FCC has been increasingly adrift ever since. The FCC has not waited for Congress to act, and has instead found creative ways to sidestep the formalist structure of the Act. It is high time for Congress to reassert its authority and to craft a new act focused on the effects of competition as a durable basis for regulation.
The antitrust statutes have not been fundamentally modified in over a century because Congress has not needed to do so: antitrust law has evolved on top of them through a mix of court decisions and doctrinal development articulated by the antitrust agencies. At the heart of this evolution of common law has been one guiding concern: effects on consumer welfare, seen through the lens of law and economics. The same concern and same analytical lens should guide the re-write of the Communications Act that is, by now, two decades overdue.
While refocusing competition regulation on effects, Congress should give equal focus to minimizing remaining barriers to competition. In particular, that means minimizing regulatory uncertainty (and, in particular, avoiding any return to mostly archaic Title II regulations); maximizing the amount of spectrum available; simplifying the construction and upgrading of wireless towers to maximize the capacity of wireless broadband; and promoting infrastructure policy at all levels of government that makes deployment cost-effective….”