A Digital Age Communications Act Paradigm for Federal-State Relations

Competition Policy and Antitrust, Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing and Networks and Infrastructure

Article Snapshot


Kyle D. Dixon and Philip J. Weiser


Journal on Telecommunications and High Tech Law, Vol. 4, p. 31, 2006


This paper describes proposals affecting federal and state governments’ legal regimes for communications networks.

Policy Relevance

Most communications law should be federal, but states should regulate some local issues like rights-of-ways.

Main Points

  • The Digital Age Communication Act working group agreed that communications law should be more coherent and certain.
  • Communications networks today are made up of a patchwork of competing networks that cross traditional geographic boundaries between localities and states. Most law should be federal.
  • States should continue to regulate basic local communications rates. Most other regulation should be federal, justified only in a case of unfair competition.
    • Working group members disagreed as to whether states should regulate when unfair competition occurred entirely within a state, or whether federal authorities should delegate some issues to states.


  • Regulation of consumer fraud by a state should be allowed for “unfair and deceptive practices.” This stops one state from regulating to protect local interests at the expense of consumers in other states.  States should regulate local rights of way, security, and safety and can delegate power to localities.


  • Local franchising should be eliminated and replaced by streamlined state certification rules.

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