Book: Digital Crossroads: American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age
Publisher: MIT Press
Telecommunications policy profoundly affects the economy and our everyday lives. Yet accounts of important telecommunications issues tend to be either superficial (and inaccurate) or mired in jargon and technical esoterica. In Digital Crossroads, Jonathan Nuechterlein and Philip Weiser offer a clear, balanced, and accessible analysis of competition policy issues in the telecommunications industry. After giving a big picture overview of the field, they present sharply reasoned analyses of the major technological, economic, and legal developments confronting communications policymakers in the twenty-first century.
Since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, when Congress fundamentally reoriented the existing regulatory scheme, no book has cogently explained the intricacies of telecommunications competition policy in the Internet age for general readers, students, and practitioners alike. Digital Crossroads meets this need, focusing on the regulatory dimensions of competition in wireline and wireless telephone service; competition among rival platforms for broadband Internet service and video distribution; and the Internet’s transformation of every aspect of the telecommunications industry, particularly through the emergence of "voice over Internet protocol" (VoIP). The authors explain not just the complicated legal issues governing the industry, but also the rapidly changing technological and economic context in which these issues arise. The book includes extensive endnotes and tables that cover relevant court decisions, FCC orders, and academic commentaries; a glossary of acronyms; a statutory addendum containing the most important provisions of federal telecommunications law; and two appendixes with information on more specialized topics. Supplementary materials for students are available at http://spot.colorado.edu/~weiserpj.
This book is about the regulation of competition in the telecommunications industry. Our purpose is twofold. First, we aim to help non-specialists climb this field’s formidable learning curve as efficiently as possible. Second, we seek to make substantive contributions to the major policy debates within the field. We have given equal priority to these two quite distinct objectives, and we believe that telecommunications policy veterans as well as newcomers to the field will benefit from our analysis.
Each of us knows from first-hand experience about this discipline’s intellectual barriers to entry. When we first met more than eight years ago in the Justice Department, we were generalist lawyers who knew very little about the nuts and bolts of telecommunications regulation. But we needed to become specialists quickly because our respective jobs—in the Solicitor General’s office and the Antitrust Division—required us to explain and help formulate federal telecommunications policy in the wake of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. After learning the field the hard way—through years of intensive first-hand immersion—we resolved to shorten the process for others by writing a book that clearly explains telecommunications competition policy in the Internet era. This book is the result.