Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, who took the helm of the agency this spring, last week outlined an agenda that will extend the deregulatory program of his predecessor, Michael Powell.
Addressing the telecommunications industry at its annual Supercomm gathering in Chicago, Martin said his top priority is to create a regulatory environment conducive to furthering broadband deployment—a priority of the Bush administration as well.
“Broadband technology has a real impact on almost every aspect of consumers lives,” Martin said. “It has a significant impact on the economy as a whole.”
Emphasizing that part of the FCCs job is to “level the playing field” for telecom providers, Martin said the commission will continue to promote a light touch when it comes to implementing regulations. “Fundamentally, I think the direction is going to be the same,” he said.
In the wireless realm, the commission will likely move toward less regulation as well. To facilitate continued wireless growth, the agency will make more spectrum available with limited rules on its use. “I think the commissions going to continue to provide more flexibility in the [spectrum-usage] rules,” Martin said.
Saying that this years Supercomm “feels more like” the Consumer Electronics Show than it has in the past, Martin said he was impressed by the number of end-user technologies and wireless demonstrations at the show. The telephone companies emphasis on deploying video services also marks a change in the industrys annual gathering, he said.
Policymakers need to re-examine the traditional mode of regulating communications based on the type of network (for example, cable, wire-line, wireless) used to deliver services, but there are many decisions that the agency can make under the current structure, Martin said.
The FCC is working on a general framework to govern new IP-enabled services and will likely issue rules by the end of this year or early next year, Martin said. In the meantime, the commission may address specific IP-related decisions earlier, as it did recently with emergency 911 rules for VOIP (voice over IP) services, he said.
As for what he would like his legacy as FCC chairman to be, Martin said, “I hope that people would say I was fair in trying to address these complicated issues.”
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