Volume 50; 1997-1998 • Issue 1

Editor’s Note

Articles

Property Rights, Reliance, and Retroactivity Under the Communications Act Of 1934
By William L. Fishman

Although the FCC and courts have concluded that licensees have certain property interests in their licenses, they do not acquire any ownership interests even when, via a spectrum auction, they pay for their licenses. What narrow property interests licensees maintain are limited, and the FCC has broad power to modify existing licenses if doing so is in the public interest.

The Information Superhighway: Trolls at the Tollgate
By Charles M. Oliver

Prior to the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, policymakers sought funding and regulatory mechanisms capable of fulfilling the vision of an Information Superhighway. Vice President Gore, the Clinton Administration’s point person on the issue, initially proposed assessing fees on other sectors of the telecommunications industry to fund construction.

Promote the Public Interest
By Gregory L. Rosston & Jeffrey S. Steinberg

With the increasing demand for spectrum to accommodate emerging technologies, and the discovery that higher frequencies are usable, the FCC has replaced its reliance on administrative mechanisms for allocating spectrum with a more flexible, market-based approach. The FCC can best accomplish its mission of promoting the public interest by continuing to rely on competitive market forces and by establishing a clear and consistent paradigm for approaching allocation, assignment, usage, and other policies.

International Jurisdiction in Cyberspace: Which States May Regulate the Internet?
By Stephan Wilske & Teresa Schiller

The Internet now reaches 60 million users in 160 countries, with the number increasing each year. Although cyberspace has been viewed as a self-regulating entity controlled by no government, this myth is being destroyed as the global Internet community expands.

The Telecommunications Act Of 1996: Codifying the Digital Divide
By Allen S. Hammond, IV

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 purports to ensure every American eventual access to advanced telecommunications networks and services, and more immediate access to basic telephone networks and services. This access is essential because it determines the ease with which Americans can acquire an education, obtain employment, control financial affairs, access emergency assistance, and participate in the political process.

Notes

All Wired Up: An Analysis of the Fcc’s Order to Internally Connect Schools
By Roxana E. Cook

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 extends universal service support to schools and libraries. Pursuant to this legislation, the FCC has provided all eligible schools with discounts of between twenty and ninety percent on telecommunications services, Internet access, and internal connections— to a 2.25 billion dollar annual cap. Critics have denounced the subsidy for internal connections as unsupported by the Act’s language and outside the FCC’s authority. However, based on a plain reading of the statute, on case law, and on legislative history, it is clear that the FCC properly exercised discretion in allocating the potential fund.

Universal Service in the Schools: One Step Too Far?
By Christine M. Mason

Universal service is extended to include new recipients, such as schools, as a result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The FCC should proceed cautiously, and maintain its commitment to the traditional goal of universal service— Americans with basic telephone services— carrying out this new mandate.

Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996: A Hidden Tax?
By Nichole L. Millard

Congress has the sole power to levy and collect taxes. The Supreme Court has ruled that Congress may delegate this authority to administrative agencies so long as the will of Congress is clearly defined in the legislation. However, section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 operates as an unconstitutional delegation of Congress’ authority to tax.

Book Review

Universal Service: Competition, Interconnection, and the Making of the American Telephone System, By Milton L. Mueller, JR.
By Clayton C. Miller