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Competition experts have long maintained that if antitrust law is applied correctly, there is no need for industrial regulation and subsequent tax burdens. In the Netherlands and Denmark, government sees the key to consumer protection through increased competition and, if necessary, a consumer authority that has the power to prosecute when there is evidence of abuse of market position and consumer harm. A modern Communications Act should implement a similar standard where regulatory actions are taken and only in cases of demonstrable harm to consumers or competition.
Republicans and Democrats have identified a problem and have come together to begin the process to modernize and reform the Act. As Chairman Wheeler said, “All of us have observed the growing convergence of previously separate and distinct communications services and with it, inevitably, the growing obsolescence of the Communications Act’s categories.” The last bipartisan effort on communications was in 1996 when telephone companies were released from some of their Title II obligations of the Communications Act. The result was a flourishing of activity to provide internet services. That the parties should come together again should only be encouraged, and shows that the best way for Washington to support the future is to remove the barriers that keep us stuck in the past.
Roslyn Layton is a doctorate fellow in the Center for Communication, Media and Information Studies at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is also a vice-president of Strand Consult, an independent consultancy for mobile operators, and a visiting fellow at the Center for Communications, Information and Technology at the American Enterprise Institute.