Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the Digital Economy: Chances and Challenges conference in Prague. The Czech national regulatory authority, Česky telekomunikační úrad (“CTU”), under the leadership of Chairman Jaromir Novak, organized the conference jointly with ICANN.

The gathering offered me an opportunity to share AT&T’s view on innovation and regulation. Even more importantly, it allowed me to learn firsthand what policymakers and industry stakeholders are doing and thinking in eastern Europe. It should be no surprise that in this vibrant and technically sophisticated region of the world, much is underway with respect to smart cities, the transition to next generation networks, and extending broadband to all citizens.

Nonetheless, I was surprised to learn that Croatia has already completed the transition to an all-IP network and shut down its legacy PSTN central offices.  I was also impressed by the cutting edge work being done in Slovenia around innovative fixed wireless broadband technologies and services.  Most encouraging of all, I found many policymakers looking forward, aiming to safeguard consumer interests and address the challenges of the 21st century without looking backward or trying to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.

How odd then to return home to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that is continuing its campaign to favor some industry sectors and companies over others, that is spending money to contrive reasons to regulate (of all things) copper-based 1.5 Mbps special access services and set-top boxes, and that is proposing to create unique and burdensome “privacy” rules that are more about creating advantages for some companies in the advertising market than about protecting consumers.

Perhaps saddest of all, how odd to come home to a rating agency’s warnings resulting solely from the damage being done by the FCC to America’s world leading broadband industry.

Something’s clearly not right in Washington.

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