Drain the FCC swamp
By Eric Steinmann
President-Elect Donald Trump is looking for bold actions to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC and free America’s economy, so that it can once again become the global leader and innovator. A great place to start would be abolishing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
President Ronald Reagan ended his first term by abolishing the Civil Aeronautics Board. The CAB determined air passenger routes, airline slots at airports and ticket prices. The agency was an obsolete relic from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Its elimination freed the airline industry for unprecedented growth and expanding service to nearly a billion airline passengers a year.
The FCC is another obsolete vestige of the New Deal. It is what happens in Washington when people with little or no experience in actual business dream up regulations and schemes to expand their influence as they see fit, with a virtually unlimited budget and few or no checks and balances.
FCC Commissioners have their own funding source, they answer to no one, the courts defer to them for some unknown reason, and they dream up new and different perceived problems that they can “solve” with more rules – in the process destroying honest American-style competition, time and again.
The wireless communications industry, once an example of American technological prowess, creativity and beneficial competition, has been largely relegated to four big companies and many small FCC-subsidized companies. Instead of competing for the good will and business of American consumers, they often line up to seek more FCC favors.
So what is the FCC doing right now?
Adding insult to injury, the FCC has decreed that American businesses must pay whatever the tribes ask, and that only the FCC may communicate with the tribes. The agency has hired a number of additional personnel to conduct these sovereign-to-sovereign discussions, one tribe at a time. But in the many months since this untenable situation has been brought to the agency’s attention, it has not (to the best of our knowledge) had even one discussion or addressed one case of price gouging – nor has it provided any valid or convincing reason for its inaction.
The communications industry can largely self-regulate and can certainly negotiate and settle any disputes over construction and other infrastructure matters. If they reach an impasse, the courts or other government agencies can be asked to intervene.
There is no need to issue more broadband spectrum at this time. If a need can be demonstrated, the Department of Commerce’s Patent & Trademark Administration or the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) could handle any needed registration.
President Trump should shut down the FCC and its inane government make-work programs. This would save the American People billions of dollars annually and allow competition to flourish.
It is not too late to open the marketplace and allow America’s communications industry to new ways to benefit our nation’s consumers, in an era when they deserve to reap the blessings of the numerous incredible technological breakthroughs of recent years.
Eric Steinmann is an executive with Clear Talk Wireless.