Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Eshoo, other Subcommittee members, thank you for the invitation to testify today. While it may not be self-evident due to my youthful appearance, I have been involved for nearly 45 years in federal telecommunications policy. And, from my standpoint, what has occurred during this period is simply amazing.
When I was at the
Interestingly, the bulk of this stunning technological metamorphosis has emerged since the 1996 Telecommunications Act was passed. That legislation significantly altered the rules governing virtually every aspect of the communications industry. The Act's purpose was as simple in theory as it was complex in implementation: to provide for a pro-competitive, deregulatory national policy framework designed to accelerate the deployment of advanced services and open all telecom markets to competition. To this end, the statute sought to eliminate cross-platform barriers and to encourage competition among service suppliers previously treated as monopolies or oligopolies.
To the credit of the drafters, the 1996 Act helped to bring about the vibrant competition that consumers currently enjoy in a variety of communications sectors, be it voice, data, or video. Whether delivered by twisted pair, coaxial cable, optical fiber, or the electromagnetic spectrum, myriad providers today are offering their customers suites of advanced services in a marketplace that scarcely could have been imagined 18 years ago.
In my view, where the statute (and
Conversely, where the government has been less effective is in maintaining highly restrictive regulations on traditional industries like wireline telephony and broadcasting. The end result has been to disadvantage these sectors even though they may be providing services that often are equivalent to those offered by their less regulated competitors. In the developing IP-centric world, all types of providers should be able to market all kinds of services, employing the same computer-oriented language that defines digital communications. And yet, the 1996 Act continues to regulate communications markets differently based on the conduit used to reach the customer (as well as the geographic location where traffic originates and terminates).
The underlying problem is not a failure of Congressional or
In this regard, let me close by setting forth a few principles that might guide the drafting of a new statute:
1. The industry silos embedded in the 1996 Act should be abolished and, instead, functionally equivalent services should be treated in the same manner, regardless of who provides them or how they are delivered to consumers.
2. The traditional dichotomy between interstate and intrastate services should be eliminated because regulatory classifications based on geographical end points no longer make sense in an IP environment.
3. Legislation should be focused on maintaining consumer protection and public safety regulations. Conversely, economic regulations should be considered in the case of non-competitive markets or in the event of demonstrated market failure.
4. New regulations should be instituted with a lighter touch, accompanied by sunset provisions so that the rationale for continued government intervention can be reviewed on a regular basis.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. And good luck, Mr. Chairman, on initiating what will be a very important effort.
Read this original document at: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF16/20140115/101648/HHRG-113-IF16-Wstate-WileyR-20140115.pdf
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