Perhaps the biggest news of the week was the agenda for the Federal Communications Commission's July 10 Open Meeting, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai laid out in a blog post on June 18, 2019. I'm traveling to New York this week; below is a shorter-than-usual weekly that takes a look at how Chairman Pai plans to take education out of the Educational Broadband Service -- and broadcast television.
The purposes of antitrust law can be broad; the mechanism of antitrust is legal. This is the core of Brandeis’s approach—to find enforceable legal standards that identify harmful industrial conduct in a manner that vindicates social and democratic values through the careful delineation of institutional roles. That job was made easier because Louis Brandeis subscribed to the view that these social and democratic values were all threatened by monopoly; thus by focusing on the practicalities of competition, antitrust statutes could advance broader societal interests as well.
Brandeis’s view of progressive governance meant that the government could improve itself and the lot of its people. The Brandeisian approach to competition has five parts; together they comprise the framework for progressive governance in the field of competition. 1. Antitrust and Social Issues. 2. Translating Social Issues Statutory Commands. 3. The Institutional Approach. 4. The Role of Competition. 5. The Spirit of Experimentation. Louis Brandeis viewed America itself as an experiment.
With publication of Louis Brandeis: A Man for This Season by the Colorado Technology Law Journal, Jon Sallet and the Benton Foundation are offering this new series adapted from that article to demonstrate that progressive competition policy incorporated both the goals and the means that Brandeis believed would provide the strongest tools to fight against the trusts and the monopolies of his day.
The Federal Trade Commission this week held another set of hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. The hearings and public comment process this Fall and Winter will provide opportunities for FTC staff and leadership to listen to experts and the public on key privacy and antitrust issues facing the modern economy. The hearings are intended to stimulate thoughtful internal and external evaluation of the FTC’s near- and long-term law enforcement and policy agenda.
[Commentary] How can we improve the biggest tool to closing the digital divide in the Federal Communications Commission’s toolbox: the Connect America Fund. Back in 2011, the FCC adopted a performance goal for the Connect America Fund of ensuring universal access to fixed broadband and concluded it would measure progress towards this outcome based on the number of newly served locations — but it did not articulate any concrete vision for when this universal service goal might be achieved.
The particulars of how the Biden Administration will execute the American Jobs Plan are scant for now, and it’s far from guaranteed that all of the $100 billion will make it through Congress unscathed. As more details emerge on how exactly this $100 billion would be spent, though, here are some major considerations that could determine how successful the plan will be.
In 2021, the big show for broadband stimulus will come in the bill that emerges from President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan–the American Jobs Plan. Democratic and Republican lawmakers should be able to find plenty of common ground in the core parts of the bill. Members of both parties are hearing from their constituents about the shortcomings of broadband service now that remote working and schooling have become central parts of life. Other issues will have to be hashed out:
Dominance in broadband services has buoyed Comcast stock and other cable TV firms for years, but now a host of issues — including President Biden's latest plan to fund municipal-backed broadband services — are making investors fret. Another concern is fixed 5G broadband services to homes now ramping up due to efforts from Verizon and T-Mobile. A second worry is the expansion of fiber-to-the-home broadband services by AT&T and other phone companies.