The Legacy of the Federal Communications Commission's Computer Inquiries

By Cannon, Robert | Federal Communications Law Journal, March 2003 | Go to article overview

The Legacy of the Federal Communications Commission's Computer Inquiries


Cannon, Robert, Federal Communications Law Journal


I.   INTRODUCTION
II.  COMPUTER I (1966)
     A. The Setting
        1. A Better Mouse Trap
        2. Western Union
        3. Big Iron and New Networks
     B. The Issue
     C. The Policy
        1. Classification
        2. Regulation
        3. Safeguard: Maximum Separation
     D. Legacy of Computer I
III. COMPUTER II (1976)
     A. The Setting
     B. The Issue
     C. The Resolution
        1. Basic versus Enhanced Service Dichotomy
           a. Basic Services
           b. Enhanced Services
           c. Adjunct Services
           d. Protocol Processing
           e. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and
              "Information Services"
        2. Safeguards
           a. Maximum Separation to Structural Separation
           b. Unbundling
     D. Layers
     E. Legacy of Computer II
IV.  COMPUTER III (1985)
     A. The Setting
     B. The Issue
     C. The Resolution
        1. Comparatively Efficient Interconnection
        2. Open Network Architecture
        3. Litigation
        4. Enforcement
     D. Legacy of Computer III
V.   CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

In the 1960s, the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC" or "Commission") awoke to the reality of powerful computers running communications networks, and communications networks over which humans interacted with really powerful computers. Computer services were a disruptive technology. They were substitute services for traditional incumbent communication services. They were highly competitive, highly innovative, and had low barriers to entry. They showed every promise of playing a vital role in the United States economy. In addition, these computer network services were dependent upon the underlying communications network. Thus, the unregulated computer services were simultaneously substitute services for the traditional regulated communications networks and also dependent upon them.

Meanwhile, the communication network services were using gigantic mainframe computers ("big iron") to run their networks. During network peaks, mainframe computers were preoccupied with operating the networks. During off-peaks, these computers had excess capacity. The telephone companies knew a good thing when they saw it and wanted to get into the computer services market, taking advantage, in part, of their inexpensive excess off-peak mainframe capacity. Thus, the telephone companies became simultaneously the supplier of the crucial transmission capacity and a competitor in the computer services market.

The FCC has struggled with the regulatory treatment of computer networks over communications networks ever since. In 1986, the Commission stated:

   The regulatory issues spawned by the technical confluence of
   regulated communications services and unregulated [computer
   networks] have been among the most important matters this
   Commission has dealt with over the past 20 years. Indeed, during
   this period, we have addressed these issues, in one proceeding or
   another, on a virtually continuous basis, as we have sought to
   revise and refine our regulatory approach in light of rapidly
   changing technological and marketplace developments. (1)

The history of the FCC and the computer networks, particularly the Internet, is now thirty-five years old. To say that the FCC does not regulate the Internet is to miss the lessons of this history. While it is true that computer networks are unregulated, computer networks were very much a part of the Commission's policy. They were the intended direct beneficiaries of the Computer Inquiries. Safeguards were imposed on common carriers for the benefit of computer networks. In addition, this is not a history of technologically biased regulation, segregating one computer from another based on the technology employed. Rather, this is a market policy, segregating competitive markets from noncompetitive markets. Finally, the conceptual framework follows a Layered Model of Regulation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Legacy of the Federal Communications Commission's Computer Inquiries
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.