The Federalist Society

Conservative & Libertarian Legal Scholarship: Telecommunications

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XV. Telecommunications

Michael Kellogg, John Thorne & Peter Huber, Federal Telecommunications Law (2d ed., 1999). A thorough and easily readable examination of the regulatory regime in this area. Contains many important insights regarding the benefits of deregulation.

R. H. Coase, The Federal Communications Commission, 2 J. L. & Econ. 1 (1959). Traces the development of government regulation, its clash with the First Amendment, and its relationship to principles of private property.

Adam D. Thierer, A Policy Maker's Guide to Deregulating Telecommunications (1994-95) (The Heritage Foundation). A five-part Heritage Foundation study that outlines the current state of telecommunications regulation. In pertinent part, Mr. Thierer critically assesses various entry barriers, price regulation, and restrictions on foreign ownership.

Reza Dibadj, Competitive Debacle in Local Telephony: Is the 1996 Telecommunications Act to Blame?, 81 Wash. U. L. Q. 1 (2003).  An examination of the regulation created by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which promised a telecom revolution that never materialized.  Professor Dibadj provides a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of regulation, which can occur even when the statute is well-written and the courts perform well.

Richard Epstein, Justified Monopolies: Regulating Pharmaceuticals and Telecommunications, 56 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 103 (2005). In this lecture Professor Epstein argues that the pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries constitute exceptions to the general assumption against monopoly and provides technical analysis of how such monopolies must work in each case.

Stuart Benjamin, Spectrum Abundance and the Choice Between Private and Public Control, 78

N.Y.U. L. Rev. 2007 (2003). An argument against the efficiency of government creation of abundant networks (his term for a refined form of spectrum commons) in favor of allowing private entities to choose whether to create them and to bear the risk of their failure.

Thomas Hazlett & Evan Leon, The Case for Liberal Spectrum Licenses: a Technical and Economic Perspective Berkeley Tech. L. J. (forthcoming 2011), available at A response to the argument that spectrum sharing technologies have become cheap and easy to deploy, mitigating airwave scarcity and, therefore, the utility of exclusive rights demonstrating that costly conflicts over airwave use not only continue, but have intensified with scientific advances, and that exclusive ownership rights help direct spectrum inputs to where they deliver the highest social gains, making exclusive property rules relatively more socially valuable.

Internet resources:

The Information Economy Project at George Mason Law School collects a wealth of economically rigorous scholarship on all aspects of telecommunications law, including broadband regulation, spectrum allocation, and more:

Last updated December 2010

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