The International Handbook of Telecommunications Economics, Volume III
Edited by Gary Madden
Chapter 4: Telecommunications policy research in information society discourse
Erik Bohlin INTRODUCTION Technology convergence aﬀects the organization and operation of markets, and the content and orientation of national and supranational policy. Several terms have been coined during the convergence debate – for example, e-economy, e-law and e-policy. Such terminology is increasingly ﬁlled with political content; for example the European Union (EU) initiative e-Europe depicts a broad political vision with the information society and technical transformation central among its motivations.1 This chapter argues that telecommunications policy research will remain relevant in post-convergence society for two reasons. First, there is considerable inertia in regulatory and legislative change processes. In Europe, democratic decision processes have a singular rhythm and logic. Phasing out telecommunications policy in this context is a lengthy process. Also in the United States (US) it took many years to bring the Telecommunications Act of 1996 into eﬀect despite numerous attempted revisions in the 1980s and 1990s. Revision does not seem likely in the foreseeable future. In Japan the 1985 legislation still dominates and is not expected to be substantially altered. Second, it is not clear that phasing out telecommunications policy is desirable. Increasingly, telecommunications policy has become intertwined with several political contexts and agendas, from trade policy to education. Telecommunications policy interacts with e-policy, areas of increasing political ambition and strategic signiﬁcance. Such policy is a means of strengthening and supplementing political ambition, and connects with media policy due to convergence, which in turn touches on constitutional issues. Therefore, telecommunications policy remains strongly in the general political...
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