This course explores the regulation and evolution of electronic communications in the United States. We will survey the legal framework of telecommunications, broadband and the Internet at several significant points in its development. Following the respective regulatory paths of broadcast, wireline and wireless telephony, cable, and broadband, the analysis will include early Federal Communications Commission broadcast regulation; the Communications Act of 1934 and its progeny; the advent of long-distance and local market telephone competition; the evolution of multichannel video communications; and the changes wrought by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Finally, we will examine technological convergence, the emergent dominance of broadband and wireless communications, and the impact of rapid technological changes.
We will also look at telecommunications from a policy and practice-oriented perspective, keeping in mind that regulations and statutes have played as important (if not more so) a role as court decisions in the development of telecommunications law. Themes that will be addressed include: conflicts between federal and state/local jurisdiction; monopoly versus competitive market regulation and issues associated with transitioning from the former to the latter; universal service issues; and the impact of such concerns as intellectual property and free speech. No prior knowledge of the telecommunications industry (or associated law) is necessary. Exposure to administrative law or antitrust law might be beneficial.