The process of formulating and implementing telecommunications policy in the United States often seems chaotic and disorganized, with overlapping responsibility and frequent conflicts among federal and state regulators, Congress, the Administration, and the Federal judiciary. There has never been a consensus on what should change and what should remain unaltered. Telecommunications policy has evolved gradually over a relatively long period of time, resulting in a cumulative major transformation. It is still tied, however, to the Communications Act of 1934. Actions have been taken that have gradually moved policy from traditional public utility regulation of a monopoly to greater reliance on market forces and encouragement of competition. The policies are an amalgam incorporating elements from a wide range of political and economic views.
There is nothing endemic in this transformation process to guarantee that the resulting policies have led to greater economic efficiency or that they are better in some subjective sense than alternatives that are available. This being the case, what is very useful is an ex post assessment of the policies that have been implemented in order to evaluate their impact. An objective evaluation of the impact of a policy affords an opportunity to make adjustments to it based on the realized economic consequences. This approach to policy making can be looked upon as a learning-by-doing exercise. In this book a number of objective studies based on data from various telecommunications systems are presented. These studies discuss and evaluate policies that have been implemented. In a number of instances, the policies have been misguided. Recommendations to correct the most egregious problems are offered.