Digital Crossroads: American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age

By Montanye, James A. | Independent Review, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Digital Crossroads: American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age


Montanye, James A., Independent Review


* Digital Crossroads: American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age By Jonathan E. Nuechterlein and Philip J. Weiser Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005. Pp. xvii, 670. $40.00 cloth.

Revolutionary improvements in computing and information technology, falling prices for equipment and services, and rapidly changing industry structures have turned telecommunications markets upside down.

Twenty years ago virtually all telephone service was provided over copper wires. Today, more than 160 million wireless telephones are in use, exceeding the number of traditional wireline subscriptions. Wireless and Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are eroding wireline demand by 7 percent per year. More Internet subscribers now use broadband access than use dial-up connections.

A similar inversion has occurred in video-distribution markets. Television programs once were distributed as free over-the-air broadcasts. Today, 75 percent of households subscribe to cable TV, and another 10 percent receive direct satellite transmissions. Viewers can look forward to watching digital television on third-generation wireless telephone sets and to receiving streaming video over broadband power-line connections.

Behind these agreeable advances lies a world of regulatory uncertainty. The transition from de jure monopoly and oligopoly to de jure, if not yet de facto, competition, coupled with a technological "convergence" that treats all communications as indistinguishable streams of 1s and 0s, has led unexpectedly to increased federal regulation. Most of this increase occurred after the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was heralded initially as the most comprehensive deregulatory and competition-enhancing legislation ever enacted. The act is seen today as having failed to accomplish these objectives. A deregulated and fully competitive telecommunications industry remains an abstract vision as pressure mounts for yet another legislative effort to get regulation right.

Digital Crossroads: American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age ably documents telecommunications' struggling policy transition from pervasive industry regulation to regulated quasi-competition during a period of rapid technological change. The authors, Jonathan E. Nuechterlein and Philip J. Weiser, bring impressive credentials to this effort. Each is a lawyer and former Supreme Court clerk: Nuechterlein also served as deputy general counsel to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and presently practices telecommunications law in Washington; and Weiser was a principal telecommunications advisor to the Justice Department and now toils in academia. Their book is a readable, comprehensive, and thoroughly documented tutorial covering the policy aspects of voice, data, video, and Internet services, as well as the key aspects of such related issues as carrier-compensation conflicts, spectrum allocation, standards setting, and embedded "subsidies" for rural subscribers, hospitals, libraries, schools, and telecommunications research. It provides just enough technical detail and economic background to place the policy issues in perspective. The book is certain to become a primary reference for industry practitioners, regulators, attorneys, historians, and students.

The authors describe their effort as twofold: "First . . . to help non-specialists climb this fields' formidable learning curve," and "[s]econd . . . to make substantive contributions to the major policy debates within the field" (p. xv). They succeed admirably well on the first count, which in turn furthers the attainment of their second objective. The book takes a balanced approach to policy analysis, fully elaborating competing options and arguments across the full spectrum of pending issues. Its focus throughout is on competition policy, substitutability and conflicts among rival technologies and delivery platforms, and the dramatic transformations being wrought by the Internet.

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 ...
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

Digital Crossroads: American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
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.