This course will provide students an introduction to the regulation of electronic communications in the United States. The course will examine telecommunications law at several significant points in its development. Following the respective regulatory paths of broadcast, telephone and cable, the analysis will include early Federal Communications Commission broadcast regulation; the Communications Act of 1934; the arrival of long-distance and local market telephone competition; the evolution of multichannel video communications; the changes wrought by the Telecommunications Act of 1996; and the advent of the Internet. 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 competition matters. No prior knowledge of the telecommunications industry (or associated law) is necessary. Exposure to administrative law or antitrust law might be beneficial.