Telecommunication Initiatives

PURC initiatives in telecommunications focus on competition, technology change, pricing, and universal service and access. This focus results in research projects, publications, and training and development for government and industry officials around the world. Specific research initiatives are listed below.

Call for papers for the 2014 TPRC | 42nd Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy

TPRC is an annual conference on communication, information and Internet policy that convenes international and interdisciplinary researchers and policymakers from academia, industry, government, and nonprofit organizations. Its purpose is to present original research relevant to policy making, share information about areas where research is needed, and engage in discussion on current policy issues. The conference program consists of presentations selected from submitted paper abstracts, student papers, posters and proposals for panels, tutorials, and demonstrations. This year's conference will also host a Graduate Student Consortium.

TPRC is now soliciting abstracts of papers, proposals for panels, tutorials and demonstrations, and student papers for presentation at the 2014 conference, to be held September 12-14, 2014 at the George Mason University Law School, in Arlington, Virginia. These presentations should report current theoretical or empirical research relevant to communication and information policy.Contributions may be from any disciplinary perspective; the sole criterion is research quality. Topic areas in previous conferences have included competition, antitrust, and other market issues; broadband deployment and adoption; spectrum and wireless application policy; media, old and new; intellectual property, technology, and Internet law; privacy, security, identity and trust; governance and institutions; innovation and entrepreneurship; and distributional outcomes and social goals. Read the complete Call for Papers. Abstract deadline is March 31.

The PURC Report on Strategic Planning for Florida Governmental Broadband Capabilities

How can governments become more efficient in how they obtain and use broadband? Strategy, governance, innovation, and delivery models are the keys, according to this PURC study. Developed for the State of Florida's Department of Management Services, this study outlines how governments can develop strategic plans and estimates the financial impacts of insourcing, outsourcing, and collaboration. The study compares Florida's approach with the approaches of four other states, and finds that governments can learn a lot from each other, including how to develop an overarching strategic plan for ICT. The study also finds that, while decentralized decision-making can lead to lost economies of collaboration, some of the economies can be made up through effective information sharing and removal of barriers to collaboration, and that the benefits of experimentation and innovation can outweigh static efficiencies during times of rapid technological and economic change.

Competition in Telecommunications

PURC researchers are studying the development and impacts of competition. The paper "Competition in Networking: Research Results and Implications for Further Reform" published in the Michigan State Law Review (2002) examines the development of competition in the United States and the lessons from research, including the findings from the paper "Effects of Prices for Local Network Interconnection on Market Structure in the U.S." published in Global Economy and Digital Society (Elsevier Science, 2004), which shows how low interconnection prices can reduce competition.

Competition between privately owned and government-owned operators came to a head recently in the United States, so PURC and its associates worked to consider the effects of municipal provision of telecommunications on competition. Their research found that privately owned competitors focus on potentially profitable markets while municipalities appear to respond to other factors, such as political considerations or the desire to provide rivalry to incumbents in smaller, rural markets. This suggests that municipalities may not hinder the development of privately owned competitors.

Related Papers

The following are available through the research papers search engine:

  • Holt, Lynne, and Mark A. Jamison. 2008. "Federal Regulation and Competitive Access to Multiple-Unit Premises: More Choice in Communications Services?" Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law, 6(2):425-454.
  • Hauge, Janice A., Mark A. Jamison, and Richard Gentry. 2008. "Bureaucrats as Entrepreneurs: Do Municipal Telecom Providers Hinder Private Entrepreneurs?" Information Economics and Policy, 20(1): 89-102.
  • Chiang, Eric P., Janice A. Hauge, and Mark A. Jamison. 2007. "Subsidies and Distorted Markets: Do Telecom Subsidies Affect Competition?" University of Florida, Department of Economics, PURC Working Paper.

The importance of competition in telecommunications and its role in economic development was the focus of the following paper:

  • Jamison, Mark A. 2007. "The 1st Academic Conference on the Auspicious Occasion of His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary: The Importance of Telecommunications Development." In NTC Annual Review 2007 Vol. 1, 58-87. Bangkok: National Telecommunications Commission of Thailand.

Net Neutrality

PURC researchers are examining net neutrality, a pressing issue in the United States. While Congress, industry professionals, and the media increasingly discuss net neutrality, academic research has been limited. In fact, a strict definition of the term has yet to evolve. We are examining the effects of providing and charging for premium transmission speed for Internet packets as this is frequently at the forefront of the debate. We are finding that providing premium transmission stimulates innovation at the edges of the network and benefits smaller Internet content providers, which is the opposite of what is typically put forth in the public debate.

Related Papers

The following papers are available through the research papers search engine:

  • Jamison, Mark A., and Janice A. Hauge. 2009. "Dumbing Down the Net: A Further Look at the Net Neutrality Debate." In Internet Policy and Economics: Challenges and Perspectives, ed. William H. Lehr and Lorenzo Maria Pupillo, 57-71. New York: Springer Science + Business Media.
  • Jamison, Mark A., and Janice A. Hauge. 2007. "Getting What You Pay For: Analyzing the Net Neutrality Debate." University of Florida, Department of Economics, PURC Working Paper.

Broadband Deployment and Convergence

PURC graduate students are examining factors that drive broadband deployment around the world. This research, which has already won an award at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference, is unique in that it examines both wireline and mobile broadband. The initial paper finds that local loop unbundling, ICT infrastructure, population density, and Internet content all influence fixed broadband adoption. Intermodal competition in wireline and allowing competition between technologies in mobile also stimulate deployment.

Related Papers

Research papers detailing how technology change affects competition, globalization of telecommunications, and connectivity and the following papers can be found through the research papers search engine:

  • Holt, Lynne, and Mary Galligan. 2009. "State and Federal Policies to Accelerate Broadband Deployment: A Policy Checklist." CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy, 17(1): 141-184.
  • Lee, Sangwon, and Mircea I. Marcu. 2007. "Fixed and Mobile Broadband Deployment: An Empirical Analysis of Adoption Factors." University of Florida, Department of Economics, PURC Working Paper.

Lifeline

In Florida, low-income households can receive a discount on their monthly local phone bills through a program called Lifeline. Florida's Lifeline program is part of a larger, national program created by the Federal Communications Commission in the belief that landline local telephone service is essential for low-income households and that a price discount was needed to make the service affordable.

PURC conducted three surveys of Floridians to see if these initial assumptions are true today. The surveys found evidence that low-income households are quickly cutting the chord and adopting cellular phones, especially prepaid phones. In fact, they are doing this at a faster rate than are higher-income households. Furthermore, it is unclear that monthly bills are an important deterrent to subscribing to traditional landline service. Survey respondents cited frequency of moving as a primary factor for preferring cellular phones over landline phones. And only a few of the low-income households who qualify for the Lifeline discount actually signed up, even if they subscribed to a landline phone.

Related Papers

The following and other related papers are available through the research papers search engine:

  • Hauge, Janice A., Eric P. Chiang, and Mark A. Jamison. 2008. "Whose Call Is It? Targeting Universal Service Programs to Low-Income Households' Telecommunications Preferences." Telecommunications Policy, 33(3-4):129-145.
  • Hauge, Janice A., Eric P. Chiang, and Mark A. Jamison. 2008. "More Than a Lifeline: Low-Income Households' Telecommunications Preferences." University of Florida, Department of Economics, PURC Working Paper.
  • Holt, Lynne, and Mark A. Jamison. 2007. "Re-Evaluating FCC Policies Concerning the Lifeline and Link-Up Programs." Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law, 5(2):393-412.
  • Hauge, Janice A., Mark A. Jamison, and R. Todd Jewell. 2007. "Participation in Social Programs by Consumers and Companies: A Nationwide Analysis of Participation Rates for Telephone Lifeline Programs." Public Finance Review, 35(5):606-25.
  • Holt, Lynne, and Mark A. Jamison. 2006. "Making Telephone Service Affordable for Low-Income Households: An Analysis of Lifeline and Link-Up Telephone Programs in Florida." University of Florida, Department of Economics, PURC Working Paper.
  • Williamson, Anne. 2006. "A Count of the Number of Households in Florida that Qualify for Lifeline Telephone Discounts 2000 to 2005." University of Florida, Department of Economics, PURC Working Paper.
  • Brown, Justin. 2006. "Disconnecting from Communications: A Survey of Floridians Who Qualify for Lifeline and Dropped Their Telephone Service." University of Florida, Department of Telecommunications, PURC Working Paper.
  • Brown, Justin. 2006. "Perspectives on Communications Services and Lifeline: Results of a Telephone Survey of Florida Households." University of Florida, Department of Telecommunications, PURC Working Paper.
  • Brown, Justin. 2006. "Understanding Participation in Telecommunications Lifeline Programs: A Survey of Low-Income Households in Florida." University of Florida, Department of Telecommunications, PURC Working Paper.
  • Brown, Justin. 2006. "Where is the Life in the Line? An Assessment of Lifeline Awareness, Support and Retention among Low-Income Households in Florida." University of Florida, Department of Telecommunications, PURC Working Paper.

Universal Service

The federal Universal Service Fund (USF) of the United States has been increasingly questioned regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of the program, designed fundamentally to ensure affordable telecommunications access to all citizens. Scholars at PURC have added to the existing research as debate over expanding the program to include broadband grows. We have analyzed one aspect of the Universal Service Program, the high-cost fund, to determine whether the structure of the program is competitively neutral as intended, given other federal telecommunications programs in effect. Such research has concluded that there are at least three potential negative effects on competition created by high-cost support.

  • Entrants are negatively affected by their contributions paid to the USF, given that they qualify for the subsidy less frequently than do incumbents.
  • Efficient entry is discouraged by the high-cost system.
  • Being a state that is a net recipient of high-cost funds might discourage efficient competition when it is difficult for entrants to qualify for subsidies.

This line of research continues and remains critical as Congress and regulators consider the expansion of the fund. Available through the research papers search engine are papers that examine the incentives the high-cost fund provides to telecommunications companies to inflate their costs, and how to estimate universal service subsidies and the impacts of subsidies on market rivalry.

Related Papers

The following and other related papers are available through the research papers search engine:

  • Hauge, Janice A., Eric P. Chiang, and Mark A. Jamison. 2008. "Whose Call Is It? Targeting Universal Service Programs to Low-Income Households' Telecommunications Preferences." Telecommunications Policy, 33(3-4):129-145.
  • Chiang, Eric P., Janice A. Hauge, and Mark A. Jamison. 2007. "Subsidies and Distorted Markets: Do Telecom Subsidies Affect Competition?" University of Florida, Department of Economics, PURC Working Paper.
  • Brown, Justin, and Mark A. Jamison. 2006. "Motivations Behind Low-Income Households' Bypass of Support for Universal Service." University of Florida, Department of Telecommunications, PURC Working Paper.
  • Brown, Justin. 2006. "Why Low-Income Households Bypass Universal Service: Lessons Learned from Focus Groups and Door-to-Door Interviews in Florida." University of Florida, Department of Telecommunications, PURC Working Paper.

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