Thursday, January 28, 2010

FCC's McDowell on Broadband Plan: "First, Do No Harm"

For over three decades now, it has been the bipartisan policy of the U.S. Government to keep information services lightly regulated, said FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, delivering the Free State Foundation Keynote at the National Press Club. The proliferation of broadband and mobile communication technologies has come about, he said, because of a competitive, free market and not because they were mandated by some government authority.

In looking ahead to the National Broadband Plan, which the FCC will present to Congress in March, McDowell said his preference is "that it should not propose heavy-handed industrial policy." He prefers incentives for service providers to invest in extending and upgrading their broadband infrastructure rather than coercive mandates. And before setting regulations, he thinks the government should first ask "What exactly is broken that only the
government can fix?"

To deal with anti-competitive conduct by monopolistic players, McDowell suggests that instead of writing new rules, (which will be tied up in court for years anyway), "the FCC could forge a new partnership with the appropriate non-governmental collaborative Internet governance bodies that have worked flawlessly on these issues for years." He believes "this approach, coupled with strict enforcement of our antitrust laws, could very well provide the benefits sought by proponents of new rules without incurring the unexpected costs of a new regulatory regime."

See also