Hazlett Speaks at Hudson Institutes Roundtable

Professor Thomas Hazlett joined several free market advocates at a roundtable sponsored by the Hudson Institutes Center for Economics on the Internet (CEI) to discuss the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) actions on network neutrality, incentive auctions, and universal service. The group recommended the FCC follow a path that allows more choice in the marketplace, leading to a more competitive environment for businesses.

Discussing incentive auctions, Hazlett expressed his opinion that the proposed two-sided auctions were too complex.

"If spectrum was deregulated, license holders could make the decisions for themselves on whether to sell off spectrum or not, and for what cost," Hazlett said. "They could also enter agreements with other companies. I wish the FCC well on what they are doing, but they have made the task much more difficult," he added.

Hazlett also classified the Universal Service Fund as "a welfare plan for rural telecom," terming it an acknowledged disaster.

"It has not extended the network," he said. "While implementing reverse auctions, for example, would help, we are still paying companies to do things, and that doesn't trickle down to users."

Industry Experts Take Aim at Commission on Net Neutrality, Auctions, USF, TR Daily, June 17, 2011.

"Speaking at a roundtable sponsored by the Hudson Institutes Center for Economics on the Internet (CEI), free market advocates within the industry raised questions about several of the policy paths being chosen by the agency, saying that while in some cases there is a need for government intervention, the FCC is relying too much on models that are proven not to work.

"In discussing net neutrality, for example, some telecom experts said they were mystified why it was taking so long for the Commission to get the rules it approved in December to be published in the Federal Register so they will take effect. While they conceded that dealing with Paperwork Reduction Act would have caused a delay in the process, they questioned whether the agency was intentionally dragging their feet on it.

"'I find it very curious, because the Commission has passed various rules in the past 16 years with the Paperwork Reduction Act,' said Harold Furchtgott-Roth, CEIs director and founder and a former FCC commissioner. 'I don't know what's going on.'

"Larry Spiwak, president of the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies, agreed, saying that the order crosses the Rubicon of FCC processes breaking down. 'I've never seen anything like this myself,' he said. 'This should have been dealt with before the rules went out.' He noted that the entire docket was not particularly well thought out because it was so politically driven.

"Thomas Hazlett, law and economics professor at George Mason University, jested that he was pleased by the delay. 'I think it is a good policy,' he stated. 'They should delay it another five or 10 years.'"