Eye of the Beholder: Participation and Impact in Telecommunication Deregulation

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 6, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) addressed both pricing deregulation and universal service in telecommunications during the last decade. Both decisions had a similar cast of characters and similarly elaborate processes. In relation to price deregulation, the utilities’ positions were accepted on every issue addressed; in relation to universal service, consumer organizations’ positions were accepted in about 60 percent of the issues. This article tells the story of how those decisions were made and examines the reasons for the difference in impact. The article examines and rejects an explanation of capture, accepts in part a focus on the influence of the commissioner in charge of the decision, and suggests that the most important factor in determining impact was the perceptions and expectations of CPUC commissioners and staff. This reminds us of the importance of agency personal and their profound impact on regulatory results.

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is an Associate Professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law.