USA - Telecommunications - Regulatory Environment

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Last updated: 23 Sep 2009 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 18

Analyst: Lawrence Baker


The Telecommunications Act of 1996 aimed to inject competition into the local telecommunications sector, but the RBOCs fought the provisions with such success that the Act’s unbundling provisions were rendered largely ineffective. In addition, the FCC has ruled that the extensive fibre networks being deployed nationwide will not be subject to mandatory access provisions. Moreover, the regulator has sanctioned several mega-mergers leading to the most concentrated US telcos market since AT&T was broken up in 1984. However, in late 2008 President-elect Obama indicated his support for a network neutrality law and for stronger enforcement of antitrust policy. Similarly, under its newly appointed Chairman, Julius Genachowski, the FCC is expected to focus on fostering new entry, wireless broadband access, an Internet user bill of rights and possibly, on improved access to the telco incumbents’ fixed networks. Significantly, in September 2009 the FCC commenced moves to introduce much-needed new network neutrality rules. This report provides an overview of the US telecommunications regulatory framework including key regulatory issues arising from the emergence of VoIP and from convergence with the broadcasting industry.

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