A Critical FCC Reform Needed To Keep the FCC Current

One of the simplest and most important FCC reforms Congress could make would be to modernize and streamline the FCC competition report process to stay current with the Internet competition era.

  • Simply, Congress should eliminate and consolidate all legacy analog technology-specific “silo” competition reports (e.g. reports on wireless, video, or satellite competition, etc., including the 706 report) and replace them with one periodic Internet Competition Reportthat is forward-looking, flexible and dynamic so that the FCC and Congress can adapt and keep pace with the ever-evolving Internet competitive landscape.
    • Since the sector is competitively converging, the FCC’s competition reporting process logically needs to converge as well.
    • This common sense best practiceof replacing and consolidating outdated and redundant reporting efforts would not only save money in tight fiscal times, but also result in a more accurately informed FCC and Congress.
    • The FCC cannot stay current or help “win the future” by relying on fossilized competition reporting processes based on outdated technology and competitive assumptions.

Problems with FCC Silo Competition Reports

First, technology-specific silo reports are inherently biased towards a static view of technology, not the natural dynamic nature of Internet technology, competition and innovation.

Second, technology-specific silo reports are inherently myopic and miss the real world big picture of the Internet and digital convergence.

  • Almost by definition these existing reports ignore the multi-dimensional nature of Internet competition, which includes, but is not limited to:
    • Intra-modal competition withina technology;
    • Inter-modal competition betweentechnologies;
    • Inter-industry/sector competition amidstdifferent industries/sectors that previously did not compete;
    • Multi-model competition amongstall of the above; and
    • More.
  • Unfortunately, single isolated technology/industry reports ensure that the FCC and Congress miss the Internet competition “forest for the trees.”
  • This FCC reporting process myopia of looking at competition through the isolated and limited lens one technology industry at a time — almost guarantees that the FCC and Congress miss much of the most important Internet competition and innovation developments that naturally occur outside of their myopic silo lenses.

Third, technology-specific silo reports are also inherently backward-looking, assuming the past will be like the future — despite the purpose and nature of innovation and competition being to improve, change, evolve to meet unmet demands and needs of consumers, the economy and society in unpredictable ways.

  • To correct for this backward-looking FCC process bias in a fast-moving and dynamic Internet-driven sector, Congress should require a periodic FCC consolidated Internet competition report, that includes an ongoing and current list of laws and regulations to be eliminated because they are based on incorrect or out-of-date competitive assumptions, or they are not flexible or keeping pace with evolving demand or technology innovation. 

Finally, if one gets what one measures, then Congress is having the FCC measure and look backward at past structures that are getting increasingly out of date and counter-productive for the economy, the consumer and industry. 

  • To best foster competition, innovation, economic growth, and job creation the FCC should look at Internet competition overall and not in selective isolation. 

To drive this important point home, the most important evolutions in communications competition aren’t considered competition at all officially by the FCC, despite tens of millions of American consumers seeing these evolutions as viable and valuable competitive alternatives for their needs:

  • Facebook’s various text, audio, and video communications technologies;
  • Google’s multifarious communications technologies;
  • Apple and Google’s app technology stores and smartphone platforms;
  • Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Rackspace, and other major cloud computing technologies;
  • NetFlix, Hulu, Google TV, and other over-the-top video streaming technologies; and
  • Microsoft-Skype’s pending integrated calling and videoconferencing technologies;
    • …to name only the most obvious examples.

Conclusion

The old adage is true. One sees what one looks for. If competition and the resultant innovation, growth and job creation that emanates from more competition, are the obvious goals, why should Congress tolerate continuing FCC processes that are chasing out-of-date congressional reporting requirements that have not withstood the test of time and have outlived their usefulness?

  • Simply, if the Congress wants Internet competition to best evolve, flourish and create economic and societal benefits, Congress needs to change FCC’s outdated competition reporting processes that blind FCC regulators to recognizing the massive amounts of ongoing multi-dimensional Internet competition occurring outside of their silo-driven line of sight.

 

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