Telecommunication Law and Regulation

Telecommunications Law and Regulation

Studying Telecommunication laws and Regulations is a great way to study the role of government and the marketplace in our community.

The fundamental questions are:

  • Who “should” Control Telecommunications technology
  • What “should” that control look like.


Central Question for this Course

The central question that will wind its way through the entire course, and which you should always keep in mind as you study this topic is:

  • should we regulate things like telecommunication at all (We could also ask should we regulate marriage, drugs, traffic, etc.)
  • and if we should, how do we ensure the regulations achieve their goal, what should the goals be

The question is; what public policy interest should those goals serve, and who should be responsible for the implementation of the goals and objectives?

Key Prerequisites (to better understand the issues)
  • Telecommunications Technology
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • General Law fundamentals
  • History of Telecommunication law

Course Description

Telecommunications Law and Regulation covers the legal and regulatory environment for telecommunications services.

The course focuses on the development of telecommunications law and policy as it relates to a variety of telecommunications technologies:

  • broadcast spectrum of radio and television
  • cable and satellite
  • wireline and cellular telephone
  • Internet

Emphasis is placed on understanding how Competition and Government interact to implement optimal public policy.


Course Objectives

The Course Objectives (COs) define the learning objectives that are considered fundamental to comprehend and demonstrate an understanding of the material.

The COs that will be covered in detail in each track.  All assignments and discussions should link directly back to the COs.

A Given the interconnectedness and substitutability of telecommunications technologies, understand the public interest implications of various uses and the role of the government in regulating markets and competition in the area.

  • Key Facts to Understand
    • Telecommunications Technology demonstrates Interconnectedness and substitutability
  • Key Conclusion to Discuss
    • What is the Public Interest and how does the government influence/ensure that public interest.
B Given governmental ownership and licensing of the broadcast spectrum, identify and describe the goals and methods of the FCC in allocating and distributing this resource.
C Given First Amendment principles regarding the regulation of content, understand the public trustee obligations imposed on broadcasters in the form of the fairness doctrine and limitations on indecency, violence, and children’s programming.
D Given the natural monopoly tendency of telecommunications technologies like cable and telephony, understand the policies underlying governmental regulation and the methods employed to constrain prices.
E Given the close relationship of broadcast spectrum with cable and direct satellite, understand the principles governing copyright and licensing, syndication, and must-carry and retransmission consent.
F Given the historical origins and development of the telephone system, understand the conditions that gave rise to the Bell monopoly, the issues that led to ultimate divestiture, and the terms of the Bell breakup.
G Given the need for broad Federal regulation of telecommunications, understand the basic provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and its effect on local competition, line-of-business restrictions, universal service, and access charge reform.
H Given that regulation of the Internet is in a nascent stage of development, understand the nature of the Internet and the policy arguments relating to how it should be regulated and by whom.



Learning Tracks

  • Telecommunications Technology
  • History of Telecommunications Laws and regulations
  • Role of Government in Telecommunication