Here’s an important aspect of U.S. communications policy:
The high-cost support mechanisms enable areas with very high costs to recover some of these costs from the federal universal service fund, leaving a smaller remainder of the costs to be recovered through end-user rates or state universal service support mechanisms….The high-cost support mechanisms include embedded high-cost loop support (HCLS), safety net additive support, safety valve support, forward-looking non-rural high-cost model support (HCMS), interstate common line support (ICLS) for rate-of-return carriers, interstate access support (IAS) for price-cap carriers, and local switching support (LSS) for carriers that serve 50,000 or fewer access lines.
U.S. communications policy is somewhat like U.S. agricultural policy. Agricultural policy, however, has many advantages relative to communications policy:
- At every geographic scale, the agricultural sector has much more competition among corporate producers than does the communications sector.
- Food can be imported, while local communications facilities can’t.
- Food markets across the world provide good, simple benchmarks for the economic performance of local producers. In contrast, communications markets are difficult to compare.
- The political economy of agricultural policy favors special interests less than does the political economy of communications policy. Subsidies (support) for agricultural producers come from general tax revenue and tax policies established through the normal political process. Subsidies (support) for communications producers come from communications-sector-specific taxes (contributions) established through an industry-specific process.
- The agricultural sector has much less economy-wide importance than the communications sector.
- The agricultural sector is much less important to future economic growth and job creation than is the communications sector.
- While both farming and communications have strong ideological support, in reality agrarianism and the family farmer historically have been more important to sector-specific agricultural policy than freedom of the press and family communications have been to sector-specific communications policy.
- The number of family farmers seeking government subsidies is now fewer than the number of high-cost communications companies seeking subsidies.
- The agricultural sector can always blame the weather. The communications sector can’t.
Pity civil servants who work on communications policy!