And in 2004, the FCC initiated what it called the “IP-Enabled Services” proceeding to consider a proper regulatory model for the rapidly growing Internet services. The agency pointed out that the greater bandwidth of broadband networks encourages the introduction of services “which may integrate voice, video, and data capabilities while maintaining high quality of service.” Then, in a prediction that came to pass shortly thereafter, the FCC added: “It may become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish ‘voice’ service from ‘data’ service, and users may increasingly rely on integrated services using broadband facilities delivered using IP rather than the traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network).” In the decade since 2004, the Commission never took any further meaningful action in the IP-Enabled Servicesproceeding. Finally, earlier this year, in response to a petition filed by AT&T in 2012, the agency authorized trials as part of its IP-Transition project.
I could go on with the timeline but you get the point. The communications marketplace environment has been and continues to change rapidly – and the laws and regulations governing the marketplace have not kept pace.
Which brings me to the Free State Foundation’s Sixth Annual Telecom Policy Conference next Tuesday, March 18, at the National Press Club. The conference theme is: “A New FCC and a New Communications Act: Aligning Communications Policy with Marketplace Realities.”
A “New FCC” refers to the fact that the agency has a new Chairman and a new Commissioner. Whenever the agency is reconstituted, especially with a new Chairman, there is an opportunity for a fresh start, for changing course. A “New Communications Act” refers to the House Commerce Committee’s recently-initiated effort to review and update the Communications Act. And “Aligning Communications Policy with Marketplace Realities” refers to…well, just go back to the timeline sketched out above.
So, at Tuesday’s conference, we will be discussing what a new FCC and a new Communications Act may mean for communications law and policy – and not just what they maymean, but also what they ought to mean. After all, for a think tank that proclaims “Because Ideas Matter” in its logo – and which has confidence this is true – the “ought” is most important of all.
Take a quick look at the agenda. I’m sure you will be convinced that the conference promises to be interesting, informative, and lively. In addition to the keynote sessions with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly and FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, the two panels are packed with nationally-prominent law and policy experts of all stripes. Both panels will be conducted in a lively Q&A conversational format, with no initial presentations…and no filibustering!
In order to attend the conference, please register here. You must register to attend. Because there is no charge to register, I cannot offer a money-back guarantee. But I pledge that if you do attend, when you leave you will know a lot more about what a new FCC and a new Communications Act may mean – and what they ought to mean – than when you arrived.
I hope to see you on Tuesday. And, as always, we appreciate your support for the Free State Foundation’s programs.[Originally published at Free State Foundation]