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Telecom Law and Policy

TLEN 5240
CREDITS: 3

Telecom Law and Policy

Fall 2014


(Classroom Only)

Phil Weiser

TUE THU 4:15 PM - 5:30 PM
Classroom: WLAW 204

Description: 

Surveys the basic principles underpinning our nation's telecommunications laws and policies. A focus of the course is broadband policy and, in particular, how past case studies might inform today's broadband policy. We will examine the legal and regulatory treatment of a number of related technologies-from telephony to wireless innovations to the Internet-whose convergence challenges the efficacy of existing laws and established principles. The course will address administrative and statutory law, paying special attention to the design and implementation of the Communications Act of 1934. In addition, the course will address the role played by antitrust, intellectual property and constitutional law (particularly the First Amendment) in shaping our nation's telecommunications landscape. Finally, the course will consider the important role played by state and federal agencies-antitrust enforcers, state public utility commissions and the Federal Communications Commission-in developing and administering our nation's telecommunications laws and policies. Same as LAWS 7241.

Objectives: 

This course surveys the basic principles underpinning our nation’s telecommunications laws. In particular, we examine the legal and regulatory treatment of a number of related technologies — from telephony to wireless innovations to the Internet — whose convergence challenges the efficacy of existing laws and established principles. It is the objective of this course to:

  1. Identify relevant and enduring telecom law concepts and arguments. Telecommunications technologies are defined by innovation and change. Telecommunications policy, however, is defined by certain enduring and recurring arguments and concepts. The first priority of the course is to teach the key concepts and attendant arguments that are frequently articulated in the area of telecommunications law.
  2. Analyze telecom in an interdisciplinary manner. The course will emphasize the intersection of economics, technology, policy and law. Economic forces – such as economies of scale and network effects – powerfully shape the incentives of telecommunications firms and customers. Meanwhile, technology innovation has enabled intelligence at the edges, mobile communications, and cross-platform competition which simply didn’t exist 20 years ago. A theme of this course is that principled policy-making must be informed by technology and economics.
  3. Detail the power, procedures, and institutional competence of significant entities setting forth telecommunications law and policy. This course addresses the respective roles of Congress, the FCC, and the courts. We also consider the emerging functions performed by international entities, including governments, industry groups and standard setting bodies. In the United States, calls for statutory reform (e.g., rewrite the Communications Act of 1934) and administrative reform (e.g., rethink the role of the FCC) are common. The course analyzes the status quo approach to telecommunications as well as certain reform proposals in an intellectually honest manner.

Prerequisites: 

None

Textbooks: 

Benjamin et al., Telecommunications Law and Policy, 2nd ed., Carolina Academic Press, 2006, ISBN 13:978-1-59460-139-2.

Hardware/Software: 

None

Proctor: 

Required

Syllabus: 

TLEN 5240