Yesterday my friend James Gattuso and I participated in what was billed as the "Great Debate" at the "F2C: Freedom to Connect Conference". Our debating opponents were Tim Wu, who is spending this semester at the University of Chicago, and MCI's Rick Whitt. The debating point: "Resolved, That the Communications Act should be replaced by a horizontal regulatory system."
Maybe "Great Debate" is too much hyperbole, at least for a participant, to latch onto. But it was actually a very good debate.
You can read Tech Daily's write-up here, and TR Daily's here. [Subscriptions required].
As reported by Tech Daily, here was part of my core argument arguing against adoption of a "layers" model: "It would be a mistake to take an approach which everyone acknowledges is actually based on these techno-functional characteristics -- capabilities that are designed in terms of functions and technologies used -- and replace that framework with a framework that is also based on another set of techno-functional capabilities. It's very difficult to anticipate how technology is going to change."
And TR Daily zeroed in on another point I made in response to the almost ritual incantation of the "incumbent" label as a basis for regulation:
Mr. May said that, if competition is better than regulation, carriers and service providers must have incentives. "In order to do this, you don't take over their property,â€ he said, adding that cable companies, by way of example, have invested billions into their networks since they were deregulated. "Just by calling someone an incumbent - that's not a policy," he said. The layers model is ultimately not helpful to the FCC, Mr. May said.