Consumers and producers should regulate themselves. This regulation should stem primarily from the contractual relationship between consumer and producer with conflicts mediated privately or in our court system. Administrative agencies should focus not on creating competition, but on making sure the lanes and highways that connect consumer and producer remain clear of impediment to trade.
For example, in the case of e-commerce, local, state, and federal administrative agencies should maximize the opening of public rights-of-way to wireline and wireless carriers. Standards should be put in place that mitigate the interference of one carrier’s signals with the signals of another carrier so that the movement of digital goods and services-information and content-move efficiently between content producer and information consumer.
We are partially accomplishing this. In section 301 of the Communications Act, Congress authorized the Federal Communications Commission to set standards for issuing licenses to wireless carriers and broadcasters, including the distribution of frequencies to carriers and broadcasters and ensuring that their signals would not interfere with each other. In section 224 of the Act the FCC addresses the regulation of rates and charges assessed to access pole attachments, charges which impact the deployment of a carrier’s cable and other plant.
One thing that is missing is balance. The Communications Act and the FCC appear to favor regulating the behavior of carriers and indirectly the investors and shareholders that underwrite the carriers. There is none of that balance between shareholders and consumers those of us who came up through the state commissions are used to seeing. The Act gives an unbalanced view of the market for carrier services. So, question is, how do we make it more commerce and investor friendly?