President Trump owes his new office to the massive communication capacity deployed since internet independence on April 30, 1995. The internet enabled coup d'etat.
And placing Donald Trump in the White House now dooms the FDR-era utility regulation implemented by the Obama FCC (News - Alert) known as Title II. The unwinding involves all three branches of government, with the Supreme Court vacating the Obama Administration Title II Order, Congress repealing and replacing of The Communication Act of 1934, and the new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai setting a date certain of Dec. 31, 2018, for completion of the IP transition. These steps will unleash a communication renaissance and likely hysterical sky-is-falling death throes of the crony establishment media – I'm melting, I'm melting.
The usual day-to-day focus tends to miss the force of government policy as a factor – often the principal factor – in the success or failure of business ecosystems. Any survey of wealth and poverty on the planet makes this obvious as countries with nearly identical natural resources like Somalia and Norway anchor opposite ends of the economic spectrum. The global information technology dominance of American companies reflects a uniquely American category of non-regulation known as "information services" dating to the IBM (News - Alert) Consent Decree in 1956. The Consent Decree prevented the heavy regulation of telephony crossing into the computing sector and created a sort of twin study as the invention of the transistor played out in telephony and computing.
The Feb. 26, 2015, FCC Order extending Title II regulation to information services ignored decades of twin study evidence showing decay of sectors under the regulatory yoke. I am the lead plaintiff in the case seeking to restore the non-regulatory status of information service by overturning the Open Internet Order at the Supreme Court. The selection of Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Scalia promises trouble for the government regulatory assault. The FCC relies on a precedent known as "Chevron (News - Alert) Deference" that allows courts to defer to agencies to the extent of legislative ambiguity. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 explicitly prohibits regulation of the internet, but a favorable political climate allowed Title II to prevail at the FCC and DC Court of Appeals.
No one paused to consider the disastrous track record of the FCC as the master product manager of the telephone network before extending FCC jurisdiction to the internet. Consider the stunning lack of innovations benefiting the communicating public from the moment of regulation in 1934 through the present day. Telephone network voice quality remained unimproved for the subsequent 80 years. The original context of Title II laws made innovation illegal as the government prohibited third-party network attachments. All of the communication benefits of the internet developed beyond the reach of the FCC as non-regulated "information services". As only possible in the alternate reality of Washington, D.C., advocates argued for internet regulation to preserve the benefits of internet non-regulation.
Trumpism must give the Communication Act of 1934 the repeal and replace treatment. It is demoralizing for an entrepreneur struggling with startup realities to watch the FCC chairman claim an FDR depression-era telecommunications law controls the internet. The telecom world of 1934 involved a legal monopoly of more than 8 million analog voice lines. Adolf Hitler was wreaking havoc in Europe and the transistor, computing, and networking did not exist. No one doubts the success of imposing an end of life on the FCC's FDR-era peers the Civil Aeronautic Board and Interstate Commerce Commission. An end of life for the FCC represents a simple concession to reality, and the investment in infrastructure startups zeroed by heavy regulation of the internet remain zeroed until Congress admits reality exists.
None of the positive aspects of the communication landscape owe to a contribution of regulators or any of the 100 or so new regulations imposed during the tenure of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (News - Alert). The present communication abundance reflects the benefits of previously non-regulated information services. The new Chairman Ajit Pai can advance the cause of a new communication renaissance by establishing a date certain for the IP transition as Dec. 31, 2018. The present regulatory morass leaves calls transiting a mix of obsolete circuit-switched and new IP infrastructure. This makes implementing HD voice impossible and suffers the significant cost and inefficiency of maintaining separate redundant incompatible networks. The multiple billions in electricity still consumed by the legacy circuit-switched network would be far better spent on research and development.
Daniel Berninger (News - Alert) is the founder of VCXC, the Voice Communication Exchange, a not-for-profit startup working to speed the transition to all-IP networks and upgrade core voice service to HD.
Edited by Alicia Young