Outdated Communications Laws Stifle Innovation, Possibly By Decades
Innovations in technology have long outpaced the government’s ability to keep up a regulatory environment conducive to the rapidly changing industry. According to an op-ed by Scott Cleland, chairman of the pro-competition e-forum NetCompetition and president of Precursor LLC, the technology for many modern day innovations we take for granted was actually developed decades ago, but the commercialization of these innovations was impeded by communications laws that are based on the largely-disproven notion that the communications sector has a natural monopoly requiring extensive regulation. For example, the technology for cell phones was invented in 1947, but wasn’t approved for consumer use until 1982.
“Existing law still entrenches the government as the decider of what communications facility innovations are best for consumers,” says Cleland. “Obviously, this century-old concept of a permanent communications monopoly is no longer relevant when cable, wireless, satellite, and various Internet competitive alternatives can provide voice services as well as the still monopoly-regulated telephone network can.”
In the digital age of broadband Internet, smartphones, and other ground-breaking technologies that lawmakers could never have fathomed when creating our outdated communications laws, a light regulatory approach to telecommunications laws is necessary to promote continued innovation and private sector technology progress.
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