As 2020 comes to a close, we find ourselves 10 years out from the National Broadband Plan, 20 years down the road from initial discussions of the appropriate regulatory classification of broadband, and 25 years since the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The time is ripe take a step back and evaluate what has worked well and what has not. In a recent paper, noted telecommunications policy thinkers Howard Shelanski and Jonathan Nuechterlein set out to do just that. The paper, “Building on What Works: An Analysis of U.S. Broadband Policy,” analyzes calls for various regulations, such as facilities-sharing obligations or open-ended net neutrality rules, and finds them wanting. While evidence from recent decades indicates the market system for broadband is working well, there is still much to be done to close the digital divide.
ITIF hosted an expert discussion of Nuechterlein and Shelanski’s paper and where U.S. telecommunications policy should go in the next administration and beyond.