Uncommon Wisdom

May 28 2010   2:04PM GMT

Congress to rewrite the Telecom Act? Not so fast, my friend

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

If you listened to the media, you’d think Congress was about to rewrite the Telecom Act.

To be sure, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is one of the most egregious examples of regulatory irregularity in the whole of the federal commission world. We live in a broadband age, one driven by Internet-based changes in information and communications, and neither broadband nor the Internet are even mentioned in the Act. The goals that were set 14 years ago to guide the next generation of public networking are totally obsolete, and yet the same rules remain in place today.

That’s the rub, though. In 10 of the 14 years since the Act was passed, legislation has gone before Congress to amend or replace it. In a couple of those years, the total number of co-sponsors of the legislation alone would have been enough to pass the bill had they simply voted for their own submission. But the bills never passed, because none ever came to a vote.

Telecom is simply a mechanism to extort campaign contributions, apparently. Lobbyists spend, Congress introduces bills and nothing gets voted on. Don’t hold your breath on this one, either.

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