FCC poised to tackle dated regulations

As the chairman begins this important process -- which also comes on the heels of similar regulatory reform efforts spearheaded by Democratic Governors in Ohio and Illinois -- here are at least three areas deserving of immediate attention:

1. Eliminating rules that fail to align with today’s technology and competitive marketplace. For example, the FCC currently imposes regulatory requirements on certain wireless carriers that were devised to apply to an analog world and technologies. Yet, today, digital networks and devices dominate the telecommunications landscape making those old rules outmoded. 

2. Repealing legacy regulations that treat competitors differently even when they offer the same service. At a time when consumers can get their phone service from a wireless, wire-line, cable or Internet provider, regulations that treat these services differently must be revisited, repealed or harmonized.

3. Ending 1930s monopoly-era reporting requirements, while updating those that remain relevant. For example, although more than half of Americans age 25 to 29 live in households with cell phones and no traditional landline, the FCC continues to issue phone usage reports that fail to recognize this changing reality. 

Every outdated and unnecessary regulation the FCC and other government agencies repeal has the potential to spur new investment, innovation and job creation. No one understands that more than the nation’s communications workers. Just ask the Communications Workers of America, which told Congress in mid-2010 that: “At a time of 10 percent unemployment – including layoffs in the telecom sector – workers in the industry cannot afford to see capital shifted from investment in advanced networks.”

President Obama has set out an ambitious goal, and Chairman Genachowski has begun to act. Let’s hope the call for smarter government doesn't get dropped.

David Sutphen is co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA). He draws from a rich background in politics, media and law to help policy makers find solutions for important Internet-related challenges like achieving universal broadband.

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