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"[S]uch is life that, whatever is proposed, it is much
easier to find reasons for rejecting than embracing."
- Samuel Johnson, The Rambler No. 39

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Preempting Preemption
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It is very fashionable to argue against the role of state agency regulation, but the realities of the effectiveness of many state agencies and the notable shortcomings of the FCC make telecom a more complex case. Not to mention, the best uses of preemption--including by the FCC (think equipment regulation)--are when no regulation is appropriate. But the Title I model of DACA envisions a competition policy standard that will require some institution to develop and apply rules that will often turn on fact specific inquiries.

As a matter of institutional design, the Regulatory Framework that DACA proposes takes on the first important question--why should agencies and not courts administer telecommunications competition policy? (On the continuing role for an agency in managing telecommunications policy, you can see my explanation (developed with Jon Nuechterlein, my Digital Crossroads co-author) here.) That a critically important question, but its answer begged a second one: could the FCC do it all itself?

For a host of reasons, some of which Ray ably noted, we concluded that the FCC could not implement competition policy all by itself, even though an integrated federal framework was critical. In taking our best stab at a reasonable institutional strategy, we looked for ways to have both the feds and states play an effective checking function against one another as well as to enable the states to provide valuable institutional support for implementing a federal regulatory regime. After all, if there will continue to be regulation of interconnection and other competitively essential wholesale support (see other debates forthcoming), some agency has to do it. And for those who followed the FCC's one effort to do that in the case of Virginia, which opted out of implementing the Telecom Act, it's hard to imagine the FCC doing 51 of those.

posted by Phil Weiser @ 10:41 AM | Federal/State Framework

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