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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

March 27, 1997

Digital Tornado: The Internet and Telecommunications Policy
FCC Staff Working Paper on Internet Policy

The FCC's Office of Plans and Policy (OPP) today released a staff working paper analyzing the implications of the Internet for the FCC and telecommunications policy. OPP Working Paper No. 29, "Digital Tornado: The Internet and Telecommunications Policy," was written by Kevin Werbach, Counsel for New Technology Policy. OPP periodically issues working papers on emerging areas in communications; these papers represent individual views and are not an official statement by the FCC or any FCC commissioner.

"Digital Tornado" represents the first comprehensive assessment of the questions the Internet poses for traditional communications policy. A central theme running through the paper is that the FCC, and other government agencies, should seek to limit regulation of Internet services. In framing his approach, Werbach states: "Because it is not tied to traditional models or regulatory environments, the Internet holds the potential to dramatically change the communications landscape. The Internet creates new forms of competition, valuable services for end users, and benefits to the economy. Government policy approaches toward the Internet should therefore start from two premises: avoid unnecessary regulation, and question the applicability of traditional rules."

After providing an analytical framework to understand the forces driving Internet growth, and describing the Internet's development and architecture, the paper addresses three primary areas:

Category Difficulties
Policy and legal questions arising from the fact that Internet-based services do not fit easily into the existing classifications for communications services under federal law or FCC regulations.
Pricing and Usage
Policy questions arising from the economics of Internet access, including assertions by local telephone companies that current Internet pricing structures result in network congestion, and arguments by Internet service providers that telephone companies have not upgraded their networks to facilitate efficient transport of data services.
Availability of Bandwidth
Regulatory and technical issues affecting the deployment of technologies promising to enable high-speed Internet access to the home and to businesses, including the implications for the Internet of the FCC's role in promoting universal service.
The paper is available on the FCC World Wide Web site, http://www.fcc.gov/ The file is available for online viewing in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format at http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/OPP/working_papers/oppwp29pdf.html, or for downloading in WordPerfect format at http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/OPP/working_papers/oppwp29.wp

Copies may also be purchased from International Transcription Services, Inc., 1919 M Street, NW, Room 246, Washington, DC 20554, (202) 857-3800.


News media contact: Meribeth McCarrick or David Fiske at 202/418-0500.
Office of Plans and Policy contact: Kevin Werbach at 202/418-1597.