Edited by Gerald R. Faulhaber, Gary Madden and Jeffrey Petchey
Chapter 3: Government Oversight of Next Generation Wireless Networks
3. Government oversight of next generation wireless networks Rob Frieden INTRODUCTION Wireless handsets increasingly deliver a combination of telephone, computer and television (TV) functions. These devices provide users a ‘third screen’ alternative for accessing multimedia content1 that currently are available from TV and computer monitors. However, for these devices to exploit fully what converging technology can offer, wireless manufacturers, carriers and content providers must agree on business models that generate sufficient revenue from advertising and consumers to pay for content creation and delivery. Additionally, legislatures and regulators have to confront the fact that a single wireless medium offering convergent services will trigger different legacy regulatory models, i.e., print, broadcast, cable television and telephony. Both business and regulatory models will have to adapt to convergent technology and markets as third screens will combine services that trigger divergent views on the proper scope and reach of government oversight. In the United States (US), the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, establishes mutual exclusivity2 between telecommunications,3 information4 and cable TV5 services notwithstanding the convergence of these services. Wireless carriers mostly provide service bundles that include conventional (regulated) telephone services, Internet access (treated as a largely unregulated information service), and audio and video services that trigger different regulations than telephone services. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) is disinclined to apply two different regulatory regimes to the same venture when it offers services that fit into more than one regulatory classification. Accordingly, the FCC treats wireless carriers as qualifying for largely unregulated...
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