Law in the Internet Society
Summary of Telecommunications Act of 1996

Note: I've tried to summary the class of 9/17 here. Please feel free to add and edit.

Major Players

Local Phone (RBOCs)

*Must permit interconnectivity; in return for

*Being allowed to provide long distance service on showing of interconnectivity

*FCC rules enforcing interconnectivity provision challenged in 8th circuit on behalf of GTE

Long Distance

*May provide local services, and may provide "other" services

*We take it for granted that you can't make any money selling long distance.


*All cross ownership restrictions lifted. Prior rule limited ownership to 10 broadcast licenses, and no more than 2 in a single market.

*Moglen's proposition: if you can't make money on AM radio, use the wavelength to broadcast english language instruction, educational instruction, and so forth.

Broadcast Television

*All parties holding licenses, and no other parties, receive free second DTV channel. Free spectrum may be used for digital television, concurrent to analog broadcast until December 21, 2002. At which point analog spectrum must be returned to public domain.

*Bob Dole opposed the giveaway. Supported the auction of additional spectrum. And as majority leader, he blocked it. In June 1996, he resigned to run for president full-time. The following week, Gingrich and Lott, threaten to defund the FCC if a non-licenseholder gets digital spectrum.

*Permission to broadcast "other services." Note that DTV didn't arrive until 2009.

*Moglen's proposition: the broadcasters want to be the wireless communicators using their free spectrum, unlike the cellphone companies that had to buy spectrum at auction.

Cable TV

*End of price control (1984 Cable Regulatory Act gives FCC regulatory control of cable rates. And the attachment rates that electric companies could charge to stick cable lines on utility poles. Takings clause claim by electric companies fails)

*May provide "other" data services. Assumed then to be the mythical "interactive" TV.

Cellular Radio

*Nothing in the bill.

Sattelite Radio

*Moglen's Proposition: Probably not that important. COnsider that Digital Audio Radio Service was going to kill terrestrial radio, and therefore they needed to be able to conglomerate. Didn't really work out that way. Compare Clear Channel vs. Sirius/XM.

Other Services

*Long Distance may, Local may, Cable may, and Broadcast may offer other services.

The basic idea here is to prevent monopoly by funneling everything towards competitive duopoly. Convergence is coming, and they will be required to compete. Too bad it didnt play out that way.

The one key idea of telecom "liberalization" is that nobody will do anything that will maximize ownership. There's nothing in here about privately constructed networks, municipally controlled networks, community networks.

This isn't the blueprint of The Net. It's about about how to streamline the oligopolies. And then make them compete over "other" services. The word web was probably never used.

-- RazaPanjwani - 17 Sep 2009



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r3 - 07 Sep 2011 - 00:49:49 - IanSullivan
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