November 9, 2011

A New Framework for Broadband and the FCC

Adam Thierer

Senior Research Fellow

Jeffrey Eisenach

Managing Director and Principal at Navigant Economics

Raymond Gifford

Partner at the law firm of Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP

Broadband policy continues to be a contentious subject of debate with many policymakers and advocates suggesting that a new framework might be needed to foster increased competition, innovation, higher speeds, greater coverage, and lower prices. Meanwhile, there’s talk in Washington once again of reforming the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring the agency into the information age.

These issues are explored in new studies by Raymond Gifford, a Partner at the law firm of Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, and by Jeffrey Eisenach, a Managing Director and Principal at Navigant Economics and an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University Law School. In a new Mercatus Center working paper, Gifford outlines what substantive FCC reform would entail and considers what antitrust agencies and enforcement can teach us about the way the FCC should work going forward.  In a similar vein, Eisenach’s new study considers how competition oversight of broadband markets could be modeled after modern antitrust principles.

Gifford and Eisenach outlined these alternative approaches to broadband policy and FCC reform in a Mercatus Center event at the Reserve Officers Association. Also joining us for the discussion was Howard Shelanski, Professor of Law at Georgetown Law School who previously served as Chief Economist for the Federal Communications Commission and as a Senior Economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers at the White House.