Institutional Competition and Coordination in the Process of Telecommunications Liberalization
The United States of America (USA) and the European Union (EU) face the same set of basic issues in telecommunications policy. Both must respond to and support technological and economic changes affecting the telecommunications industry, in particular the convergence of telecommunications, computing and broadcasting, so as to assure the greatest possible yield of benefits to the widest possible distribution. Yet, despite this common objective, the telecommunications policies of the USA and the EU differ in significant respects. Some of these differences can be explained without reference to regulatory institutions--disparate demographic, geographical, and socio-economic factors ordinarily lead to disparate policy choices. But the magnitude of these differences is not sufficiently great to provide the basis for a complete account of the dissimilarities in the paths taken by the telecommunications policies of the USA and the EU. Reference also must be made to the institutional environments, for institutional factors operate in conjunction with decisions about optimal policy choices to shape the development of regulatory policy ( Bulmer 1994b; Levy and Spiller 1994: 205; Thatcher 1992).
This chapter juxtaposes the experience of the USA and the EU in telecommunications regulation to show how distinctive constitutional and institutional arrangements have led to contrasting policy outcomes (see also Cappelletti and others 1986: 5-12). More particularly, this chapter explores how tensions between actors in the regulatory environment ( Irwin 1988) shape their use of regulatory institutions. It thus concerns itself with____________________