Will Wireless Get Left Out In Internet Deregulation?

The latest in the ongoing battle within the FCC about how to deal with deregulation issues has FCC Commissioner Michael Copps using a speech to take on the views of FCC Chairman Michael Powell. In the speech Copps worries that deregulation will just help the bigger players get bigger, and plays down the idea that new technologies (such as wireless) will fill in the gaps by offering competition to wired connections. It’s a fascinating political battle, and each side makes some interesting points. Allowing increased competition allows increased innovation, and helps new technologies get out into the world. However, in situations where some players are so big that they have monopoly control over things, the opposite can occur – and they can use their power to crush innovation. So, the trick is balancing a situation that encourages innovation and competition, without unfairly creating monopolies that prevent new innovations from getting off the ground. Unfortunately, reading through all of this, it appears that everyone is trying to resolve “big” issues with little tinkering. There are certainly reasons to take things slowly and not necessarily overhaul the entire system in one fell swoop, but there are clear regulatory problems with the way the system is currently designed and many of the problems arise because the rules are based on obsolete systems and don’t accurately reflect the current reality. If you want to read the entire (very interesting) Copps speech, Professor Larry Lessig at Stanford has posted a copy in PDF format.

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