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Breaking Down the Advance Universal Service Funds for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

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On October 4, the Federal Communications Commission voted to allow eligible telecommunications providers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to receive up to $76.9 million, or seven months worth of subsidies, in advance from the Universal Service Fund’s Connect America Fund (CAF). This post shows the amount of money eligible companies have received from the relevant funds in the past and how much they are eligible to receive in advance. Detailed data on spending by the USF is publicly available, but not always easily accessible. To remedy this issue, […]

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Bolstering Economics at the FCC: Will a Separate Office Help?

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When I was chief economist at the FCC in 2014, the largest fraction of my time was spent on how to improve the standing of economists and use of economics at the FCC. Many of the economists at the FCC, and some others as well, shared my concern that economists and economics was undervalued there. Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has recently proposed creating a Bureau of Economics and Data. I have no small amount of instinctive sympathy for his proposal, having myself been part of the Department of Justice […]

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Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB Reviews Strongly Correlated With Movie Revenues

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Recently, movie director Brett Ratner said that Rotten Tomatoes, a site that aggregates both professional critics’ and audience reviews, is “the destruction of our business.” To test his claim, I construct a database that includes Rotten Tomato scores for almost 2,000 movies and IMDB audience scores for over 4,000 movies released between 1925 and 2016, although the majority of movies in the dataset were released between 2004 and 2016. I find that, all else equal, each additional percentage point a movie is rated “fresh” (as opposed to “rotten”) on average […]

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Quality Policymaking Requires a Combination of Data, Privacy, and Institutional Capacity

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Credible evidence is necessary for effective government, and credible evidence comes from quality data collection, storage, and analysis. That is the central theme of a report issued this morning by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, on which Professor Bob Hahn, faculty member at the University of Oxford and member of the Technology Policy Institute’s Board of Academic Advisors, recently completed service. The Commission was charged with studying the current state of data infrastructure, inventory, and security in the context of Federal policymaking. Its final report offered recommendations to improve the […]

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Some Simple Analytics of Vertically Linked Markets. Net Neutrality Special Issue Blog #9

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One of the most contentious aspects of net neutrality is the degree to which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be able to vertically integrate with content providers. The concern is that a vertically integrated firm could prioritize delivery of its own content at the expense of its competitors absent net neutrality rules. The questions then arise: when would ISPs would actually face such incentives and how might they affect consumers? To unpack these questions, Joseph Farrell, Professor of Economics at University of California, Berkeley, in his article, “Some Simple Analytics of Vertically Linked Markets,” analyzes the case of a single, vertically integrated firm that sets prices for its initial product and also chooses a […]

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The FCC’s Net Neutrality Decision and Stock Prices. Net Neutrality Special Issue Blog #8

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The net neutrality conversation has seen several twists and turns since the FCC’s non-binding “Internet Policy Statement” of the early 2000s. The first iteration of net neutrality regulations was overturned in court. The 2015 Open Internet Order (2015 OIO), which included prohibitions on blocking or throttling content and paid prioritization, were ushered in amidst both cheers and sneers. Most recently, a new FCC has begun the process of rolling back the 2015 OIO. The debate will continue, in part, because decisions are based on forecasts of what will happen – […]

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The Digital Divide and Other Economic Considerations for Network Neutrality. Net Neutrality Special Issue Blog #7

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While the Internet seems ubiquitous, digital divides remain, particularly across incomes. In the U.S., adults making less than $30,000 per year are significantly less likely to use any type of digital device and to have broadband Internet access in their home[1]. The 2015 Open Internet Order (2015 OIO) was adopted, in part, to reduce the divide by expediting broadband deployment and removing obstacles to the market. In their recent work “The Digital Divide and Other Economic Considerations for Network Neutrality,” authors Michelle Connolly, Clement Lee, and Renhao Tan question whether […]

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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Net Uniformity: Zero Rating and Nondiscrimination. Net Neutrality Special Issue Blog #6

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The current net neutrality regulations set forth in the 2015 Open Internet Order (2015 OIO) prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or throttling lawful content or engaging in paid prioritization of Internet traffic. These three “bright line rules” cover a wide swath of ISP practices and are intended to promote competition and ensure quality service transmission for content providers and end users. At the same time, however, they fail to consider more nuanced issues that complicate achieving these outcomes. Christopher Yoo, Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer and Information […]

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The Effect of Regulation on Broadband: Evaluating the Empirical Evidence in the FCC’s 2015 “Open Internet Order.” Net Neutrality Special Issue Blog #5

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When the FCC classified broadband Internet service providers as Title II common carriers in the 2015 Open Internet Order (2015 OIO), it argued that emerging industries had thrived under “light touch” variations of Title II regulations and that broadband would be no different. This argument does not hold up to scrutiny, write Thomas Hazlett, H.H. Macaulay Endowed Chair in Economics at Clemson University and former Chief Economist of the FCC, and Joshua Wright, Executive Director, Global Antitrust Institute at George Mason University and former FTC Commissioner, in their article “The […]

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The Post-Internet Order Broadband — Lessons from the Pre-Open Internet Order Experience. Net Neutrality Special Issue Blog # 4

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To support the 2015 Open Internet Order (OIO), the FCC cited four potential violations of net neutrality over the previous ten years, only two of which it explicitly challenged. Why, then, did the FCC say a rule was desperately needed and Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) providers say the rule would be devastating given that their past behavior meant that the rule would not affect them much? To mix common sense with econspeak, why did anyone care about the Order if it was not binding?[1] Tim Brennan, professor in the […]

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