McDonough School of Business
News Story

Center for Business and Public Policy Commemorates 1996 Telecommunications Act

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy hosted an informal discussion looking back and looking forward.  The discussion was moderated by senior industry and innovation fellow Ralph Everett and featured four experts with various perspectives who were involved with the construction and passage of the legislation:

  • Rick Boucher, honorary co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance and former U.S. Representative (VA 9th District 1983-2011) and chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet;
  • Harold Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Center for Economics of the Internet, Hudson Institute, and former FCC commissioner (1997-2001);
  • Larry Irving, co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance and former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (1993-1999); and
  • John Mayo, professor of economics, business, and public policy at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and executive director of the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy.

“The 1996 Act was very important and we should not lose sight of the fact that it was the first full throated embrace of a pro-competitive deregulated environment,” Mayo said. Boucher, Furchtgott-Roth, Irving, and Mayo shared their perspectives on what the act got right, the unforeseen challenges it has faced, and what a telecommunications act for the digital age would look like. The experts agreed that there are substantial incongruities between the regulatory apparatus and the industry today, and that those incongruities compel policymakers and regulators to move forward.