Surprise! For my inaugural entry on the PFF Blog, I thought I'd clarify (okay, deny) what was news to me when I read it in Washington Internet Daily (September 20, 2004), which reported on a broadband reform panel on which I sat last Friday. Specifically, the Daily (inadvertently) suggested that I believe "[r]egulatory reform doesn't bring anything to consumers." Given that such a position would deem superfluous the last few years of my career (not to mention the work of countless other policymakers and observers), I decided I should clarify the record.
My point, as elaborated in my complete remarks, was that the companies and entrepreneurs investing in broadband are the ones who bring these valuable services to consumers, not regulators. That said, regulatory reform can play a critical role in facilitating (or at least not obstructing) that process by minimizing regulatory costs, uncertainties and economic distortions.
I should add that this point deserves clarification particularly with respect to the relative importance of regulatory reform versus other approaches to promoting broadband deployment (e.g., massive subsidies, making government the primary supplier). I have yet to see a detailed, credible plan that relies on such approaches that does not also potentially saddle consumers and taxpayers with enormous costs, or with significant risks that regulators will fail to select the broadband solutions that make the most economic sense in the long run.
So never mind -- regulatory reform remains a critical lever in bringing broadband to more Americans, no matter what you thought I said last Friday.