Friday, April 1, 2005 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

A Good Great Debate

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,” 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.

posted by Randolph May @ 10:34 AM | Communications