Returning to Agency Deference in Communications Law
Policy is not settled quickly in communications law. The 1996 Telecommunications Act required incumbent telecommunications carriers to open their networks to competitors on regulated terms. It took more than a decade, two trips to the Supreme Court, and several trips to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to ascertain the meaning of this statutory requirement. The story is similar to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) efforts since 1998 to fit consumer internet service into the same Telecommunications Act’s statutory framework, resulting in repeated trips to the Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court.