Policy Documents

A State Legislator's Guide to Telecom Policy

Barry M. Aarons and Solveig Singleton –
January 1, 2004

The telecommunications industry has undergone a revolution. Even the most recent federal law affecting the industry, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, failed to anticipate the widespread adoption of wireless telephone and new technologies like Instant Messaging and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), let alone their substitution for traditional phone service. Never has there been a clearer example of the inability of law to keep pace with technology.

Now it is time for governments to substitute market-based competition for government-managed competition. Regulation stifles the investment necessary to stimulate economic growth and job creation. Market-based competition is the hallmark of a consumer-focused marketplace where providers compete for customers on the basis of innovation, quality, price and customer service.

Without doubt, the communications technologies that best deliver the products and services embraced by consumers are those operating in unregulated or lightly regulated environments. Deregulation would spur even more innovation, competition, and consumer satisfaction.