Time for the FCC to join the 21st century

By Fred McClimans, Network World |  Government

Our great constitution gives you lots of rights. The right to low-cost access to the latest, greatest technology, however, is not among them. I've looked and it's just not there.

So why is it the FCC seems to think that everything new must be made available to the masses at low cost -- to the point of getting the rest of us to subsidize it? FCC Chairman William Kennard in particular has tried to ignore the marketplace in his zeal to get high-speed Internet access everywhere. But that may be all about to change.

If Dubya becomes the president elect (could happen this week), look for Kennard to be replaced by Michael Powell -- a very outspoken and pro-technology fellow who couldn't be more of an opposite to Kennard (see Powell's official bio).

With Powell, already an FCC commissioner, we might finally have an FCC chairman who recognizes that the FCC is still stuck in the analog world. This isn't the 1930s when the TVA brought electricity to the Ozarks. Today, technology innovation needs to be fostered and unfettered by regulatory roadblocks, that not everybody needs immediate -- and free -- access to the latest technology. Yet, at the same time, Powell says, government agencies need to continue to monitor the marketplace to make sure that consumers remain protected. Take, for example, some of his comments on the AOL/TimeWarner merger:

So what does this mean to you? Plenty. Face it, we are all capitalists in a technology-based capitalist society and the rules of capitalism might be just about to change. That means new products, services and even companies. But it also means: let the buyer beware.

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