Who Should Regulate Entry into IPTV and Municipal Wireless?

Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Networks and Infrastructure, Broadband and Wireless

Article Snapshot


Randal Picker


Chicago Olin Law & Econ Working Paper No. 308 (2D Series), September 2006


This paper looks at policy for Internet protocol television (IPTV) and municipal wireless broadband.

Policy Relevance

Local control over local assets makes sense, unless a locality's decision causes problems for other localities. For IPTV and municipal broadband, so far, local control makes the most sense.

Main Points

  • Internet protocol television (IPTV) is a new service expected to compete with cable, satellite, and over-the-air broadcast television. Wireless broadband services will compete with DSL and cable broadband services, and can be offered by municipal governments.


  • Jurisdiction over communications service has been mixed, federal, state, or local. When issues with service cross borders, federal control makes sense. Regulation of satellite service is best done at a federal level.


  • Cable franchising has been problematic because of monopoly, but it makes sense to have local control over local assets.


  • Municipal governments are best to set rules for municipal wireless broadband, which uses local assets like city light poles.


  • IPTV services might be asked to build out service to broad areas at once, or not. Most actual entry seems to be local. Federal regulation is premature.


  • With both new services, local control allows variety, as localities differ on issues such as price, advertising, and subsidizing service to low income groups.

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