Category Archives: Price Regulation

Second Circuit Debunks FCC’s Set-Top Box Arguments

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Last February, the FCC launched yet another attempt to excise itself from (in the immortal words of former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell) the “Valley of Unattained Goals” of Section 629.  To justify its aggressive regulatory intervention, the Commission argued that (1) there is a separate market for set-top boxes over which MVPDs allegedly exercise market power; and, as such, (2) the rates consumers pay to rent set-top boxes, to put it colloquially, are “too damn high.” While such arguments make for great populist fodder, the problem is that the Commission’s foundational arguments underlying their set-top box proposal simply are not Continue Reading »

The FCC’s Intellectual and Empirical Vacuum Over Market Power for Special Access Services

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It’s been over eighty years since the Communications Act of 1934 created the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) for the purpose of overseeing the nation’s communications industries.  Still, as revealed most recently in the Commission’s Tariff Investigation Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Special Access Services (hereinafter “BDS Further Notice”) the Agency has no idea how to define or measure market power in telecommunications markets.  In fact, its BDS Further Notice offers no apparent definition of market power, which is a significant deficiency for a regulatory regime allegedly based on the presence of market power. There are some hints Continue Reading »

Some Preliminary Thoughts On Dr. Rysman’s Special Access Empirical Analysis…

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As part of the Federal Communication Commission’s Tariff Investigation Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Special Access Services, the Agency included as Appendix B a commissioned empirical study by Dr. Marc Rysman of Boston University.  While there’s a lot to say about Dr. Rysman’s analysis, because it just came out two days ago I want to take the time to make sure I fully understand Dr. Rysman’s technique and modeling choices before passing judgement.  That said, while I won’t provide a thorough analysis of Dr. Rysman’s econometric analysis in this blog, there are some glaring items that are Continue Reading »

Special Access and the FCC’s Regulatory Revival…

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There is a Chinese proverb, though some call it a curse, which says “May you live in interesting times.” For those involved in telecommunications policy over the last few decades, I think it’s safe to say we are now living in interesting times. Since before and certainly after the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the communications industry has undergone a competitive and deregulatory revolution. Twenty years ago the cross-entry of phone companies into video markets and video companies into phone markets was a running joke, but no longer. It’s a reality. Video regulation, which was a disaster even under monopoly conditions, has Continue Reading »

2014 Year in Review…

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2014 provided fertile soil for those interested in policy research. So with New Years rapidly approaching, I want to uphold tradition and use our last blog post of the year to highlight what we at the Phoenix Center thought to be the most interesting policy issues of 2014 and to provide some select examples of where we believed we added constructively to the debate. Spectrum Availability and Allocation While spectrum policy is always complex, the debate again boiled down to the fundamental questions: how do we free up more spectrum; and once we do, how do we allocate it? For Continue Reading »

Mr. Wheeler Agrees: It’s The “Termination Market”…

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Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal provided a peek at Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s latest plan for net neutrality.  Under the reported plan, the Chairman intends to divide the two-sided broadband market into its components—a retail and a termination service—and then reclassify the termination service as a Title II common carrier telecommunications service but leave retail services as a mostly unregulated Title I information service. As the Journal’s article states, The plan now under consideration would separate broadband into two distinct services: a retail one, in which consumers would pay broadband providers for Internet access; and a back-end Continue Reading »

A Response to the WaPo’s Timothy Lee: Why Comcast is NOT Acting Like a Monopolist…

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In a recent article, Washington Post technology reporter Timothy Lee suggested that “broadband speeds were stagnating in the United States”, resulting in “slow innovation and poor customer service.” Comcast—the nation’s largest broadband service provider—begged to differ, and provided Mr. Lee with hard evidence indicating that the opposite was true. While Mr. Lee subsequently admitted his error and conceded that “Comcast’s service really has been getting faster”, Mr. Lee attempts to use the same data to argue that Comcast is “acting more and more like a monopolist.” Specifically, Mr. Lee contends that these data reveal that Comcast is “focus[ing] on maximizing Continue Reading »

A Fresh Analytical Start at the FCC…

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The Federal Communications Commission is at a crossroads.  Burdened with implementing laws designed for a market structure of a bygone era—and with little prospect of a comprehensive legislative update on the horizon—incoming FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler faces a daunting task to adapt and modernize the agency’s approach to regulation so that we can remove, in President Obama’s words, those rules which have “outlived their usefulness.”  Equally as important, Mr. Wheeler has the related and no less daunting task of re-establishing the FCC’s credibility with the industry, Capitol Hill, the courts and (most importantly) the public as the “expert” agency which Continue Reading »