Trump administration may deregulate US telecoms industry

Newly-appointed advisor claims "original motivations for having an FCC have gone away"

President elect Donald Trump could dissolve the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) when he takes office - if he follows the advice of one of the members of his tech policy transition team.

In a blog post written in late October, Mark Jamison, who on Monday became one of Trump's two advisors on technology, claimed the FCC, which protects consumer rights with regards to telecoms in the US, was "overkill" when it came to the prevention of monopolies.

The FCC notably upheld the principle of net neutrality in early 2015, voting three to two in favour of an open and free internet, thwarting some internet service providers' plans to introduce 'fast lanes' for some web content in exchange for charging customers a fee.

But Jamison's post read: "Most of the original motivations for having an FCC have gone away. Telecommunications network providers and ISPs are rarely, if ever, monopolies. If there are instances where there are monopolies, it would seem overkill to have an entire federal agency dedicated to ex ante regulation of their services."

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"Content on the web competes well with content provided by broadcasters, seeming to eliminate any need for FCC oversight of broadcasters. Perhaps there is need for rules for use of the airwaves during times of emergency, but that can be handled without regulating the content providers themselves," he added.

Jamison puts forward three reasons that the FCC still exists: political inertia, as it's a cumbersome process to dissolve a government agency; some businesses and other groups have a vested interest in its continued existence and are able to apply political pressure to ensure it remains intact; and that it's important for radio spectrum allocation to be regulated.

Despite appearances, Jamison does not argue for total deregluation, however. Instead he states that the oversight and prevention of monopolies should fall under the purview of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), while an independent regulator of some sorts - but not the FCC - should oversee the provision of radio spectrum.

"Thus, at the end of the day, we don't need the FCC, but we still need an independent agency," he said.

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