While today’s House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing on the “The Budget and Spending of the Federal Communications Commission” examines the FCC’s programs and finances, it’s important to recognize that the Commission is basing its work on a shaky foundation.
In 1996 — the last time telecommunications laws were overhauled — Google didn’t exist, the Internet had 100,000 websites, and most people were still exhilarated by the buzz of a successful dial-up Internet connection. Wireless communications were limited to basic cell phones and Skypagers, and the newly released Palm Pilot PDA had to be docked onto a computer to download email.
Today, there are hundreds of millions of websites; television is available via the Internet; the Internet is available on cell phones; and phone calls are made using cable TV infrastructure. Telecommunications networks have converged beyond anyone’s imagination.
No one would use a 16 year-old laptop, cell phone or computer server. Yet the FCC operates with a 16 year-old operating system, an anachronistic governing statute that pre-dates Google and smart phones and undermines today’s innovation ecosystem. For the sake of tech and telecom sector growth and creativity, the IIA encourages policy makers to modernize the government for an Internet age and consider that less is often more when it comes to regulating a rapidly evolving industry.