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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Robert McDowell Participates in Panel on Efforts to Update 1934 Communications Act

October 23, 2014

Robert M. McDowell, a partner in Wiley Rein’s Communications Practice, was a featured panelist yesterday at a Brookings Institution event focusing on efforts to update the Communications Act of 1934.  The discussion was televised on C-SPAN.

The rapidly evolving technologies fueling today’s “app economy” could not have been envisioned by the 80-year-old law, or by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, said Mr. McDowell, who served as a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission from 2006 to 2013.  But he noted that regulatory “silos” continue to hamper innovation because telephone, broadcast, cable, and wireless services are still subject to different sections of the 1934 law. 

“For the technology in the market, and especially for consumers, those silos don’t exist, and the law should be updated to reflect that,” he said.  “If you look at the innovation in past 10 years or so, where has it come from?  It’s come from the least regulated parts of the industry,” such as smartphones and mobile applications.

A webcast of the Brookings event can be found here.