Commissioner Pai on the Right (Speed) Track
Last month FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai gave a major speech, a level-setting speech that provided a calibration of his view of the role of the FCC. He came out swinging, citing many ways in which the FCC could do a better job, such as not being a hindrance to the advance of innovation and to the consumer benefits innovation brings.
He discussed the need for the FCC to speed reviews of various sorts so as not to impede innovation and investment, and the resulting benefits and jobs. “…Delays at the Commission have substantial real-world consequences: new technologies remain on the shelves; capital lies fallow; and entrepreneurs stop hiring or, even worse, reduce their workforce as they wait for regulatory uncertainty to work itself out.”
Speeding reviews helps to limit the length of time the market is uncertain. Clearly certainty is better than havoc for investing, growth and opportunity. To punctuate his message he called for the FCC to exercise a greater use of forbearance (in part, the decision to not apply a commission regulation).
We agree and are quite happy that the commissioner called it out, but we would change one more thing.
The current stance of the FCC is that it may, and presumably should, regulate--hence the need for a legislated notion of forbearance. Instead forbearance should be the assumed default, with the FCC ready to jump in only when absolutely necessary, and then on a strictly followed, quick-timetable. This way of thinking leads to two striking benefits: speed of certainty and a pro-innovation outlook.
Regulation would not be contemplated unless absolutely necessary, hence removing a great deal of the uncertainty involved in a review. Certainty is fairly immediate.
And a pro-innovation outlook would begin. The priority should be allowing for invention, creativity, growth and risk rather than clinging to fear. Change and forward thinking should be embraced. Instead of fear that advances must somehow cause grievous harm to someone somewhere, it should adopt a vision based on a faith in American ingenuity and hope for a better tomorrow.
Let’s have an FCC that stays out of the way of advancement even while guarding against harm, allowing the conditions of the market, rather than the conditions of regulators, to spur innovation.
Thank you, Commissioner Pai, for helping to lead the way.