We do not make telephone calls how we did a century ago. Rules wish to get with the times, too. We’re in the middle of a transition far away from copper wire-based totally communications services and products to broadband internet-based totally services and products — a transition that then-FCC commissioner Michael Powell referred to as the “nice Digital Broadband Migration” means again within the 12 months 2000.
To its credit, on October 23, the home vitality and Commerce Committee held a listening to the implications of this migration to digital products and services. While the listening top’s title — “The Evolution of Wired Communications Networks” — may put you in thoughts for an excellent nap, the listening to did center of attention wanted attention on vital public policy issues raised by the digital transition.
And now, with the Senate just confirming Democrat Tom Wheeler as President Osama’s choice for brand spanking new Federal Communications Commission chairman, together with Republican Michael O’Reilly as a new commissioner, the house listening to couldn’t have been timelier. Since the FCC, with a new chairperson and a full complement of commissioners now on board, must act with dispatch to adapt its regulations to the brand new digital age market realities.
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The digital migration, or migration to IP (Internet Protocol) services and products as they’re ceaselessly known, is already a long way along. in keeping with a just-released record via Anna-
Maria Kovacs, a visiting senior coverage pupil at Georgetown college’s center for business and Public policy, as of 2012 only 5 p.c of U.S. households still rely best on copper-primarily based wireline POTS (plain old phone provider) lines for voice communications, whereas 38 p.c of U.S. households are Wi-Fi best. Over ninety % of households subscribe to Wi-Fi providers, increasingly more delivered over IP broadband systems. The entire whereas, the number of subscribers to IP-based voice products and services provided via cable firms and others has elevated incessantly as POTS subscriptions have declined.
The IP migration gifts policymakers with an elementary query: will the century-previous public utility-fashion regulatory framework that still mostly governs communications carrier providers be replaced through a free-market-oriented framework that benefits consumers, whereas, at the same time, stimulating funding and innovation? Or, as a substitute, will the legacy framework, with price law, nondiscrimination mandates, and other regulatory strictures, be an obstacle to realizing the full benefits of the digital revolution?
There may be close to a common agreement that IP products and services present shoppers with more features and functionalities in less costly, extra environment-friendly ways than do the previous copper-based totally services. There may be additionally well-liked settlement that IP-based products and services totally have fostered increasing competitors amongst broadband suppliers for the supply of voice, high-speed data, and video services and products, despite whether or not these suppliers offer these services and products over wireline, cable, wireless, satellite TV for pc, fiber, or any other know-how.
So the related level for the FCC and other policymakers isn’t, as pro-regulatory advocates frequently indicate, that the entire products and services provided by all of the competitors should not be completely substitutable all of the time for all customers. No, the relevant point is that, for a big, ever-growing collection of customers, a choice of various IP-primarily based rivals exists, and these opponents, in flip, supply a selection of attractive provider options.
In different words, inside the past decade or two, the communications marketplace has been reworked from a monopolistic setting right into a competitive one characterized by increasing consumer options.