McDonough School of Business
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The Losing Case for Special Access Regulation

Senior Industry and Innovation Fellow Larry Downes contrasts the lethargic pace of the evolution of regulatory oversight of wholesale enterprise communications services, known as “special access services,” with the rapid changes in supply and technology in a new policy paper released by the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Downes reviews the history of the special access proceeding and argues that while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appears increasingly eager to expand the scope of its control over this dynamic market, the case for regulation is actually growing weaker. He delves into potential explanations for this disconnect between regulation and technology, arguing that much of the incongruity can be explained by successful political rent-seeking by consumers and competitors in this market.

“The special access proceeding, unfortunately, has become the latest indication of the kind of policing the FCC has in mind as the Internet’s regulatory cop on the beat. In sharp contrast to the engineering-driven multistakeholder process that has so far driven the unprecedented success of digital technology, the chairman’s approach is neither enlightened nor modern. Nor, it seems, is it based on sound economic principles or analytic practices.”

The full paper can be viewed here. To speak with Downes, a best-selling author on developing business strategies in an age of accelerating technological disruption, contact Brynn Lampert at (202) 687-5254 or