Monday, May 9, 2016
Telecommunications Regulation: Switching on again
I started my interest in the economics of regulation studying the telecommunications sector, back in the early 1990s. I wrote my master's thesis about it (who knows where it is). Then I moved to the EUI in Florence where I became a full time academic and worked on my PhD thesis. The thesis was about the political economy of regulation. I had two theoretical chapters and an empirical one. One of the theoretical papers was inspired by the access pricing problem in telecommunications, but the part that was finally published (International Journal of Industrial Organization, 2008, with Paul Levine and Joanne Evans) reflected only the first part of the chapter, which was an abstract regulatory problem that could be applied to any monopolistic segment of any industry. So gradually I lost track of the technical details of telecommunications regulation, precisely when it was becoming more complex due to very rapid technological change. When I spent eight months in Berkeley in 2008, I studied regulatory federalism and among other materials, I read the first edition of the book by Nuechterlein and Weiser on the history and current economics of telecom regulation in the USA. I also went through some of the controversies in Latin America, Spain and the rest of Europe as I studied institutional issues related to regulatory independence, the merger of agencies and regulatory federalism in practice. I was also involved in a consulting project about mobile virtual network operators in Spain. But mostly, I have spent more time on other topics in the recent past: institutional economics, political economy and related issues. Now I'm switching on again, as I am trying to prepare with a colleague a policy paper on the behavioral problems of regulators as applied to telecom regulation. I found that a good way to get back to business was to buy the second and substantially revised edition of the book by Nuechterlein and Weiser, the recent papers about telecommunications policy by Ingo Vogelsang, and the just published paper about Net Neutrality in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.