As the authors point out, emerging technologies render state regulation of cable and telecom obsolete in many respects. They conclude:
The old natural monopoly required economic oversight from guardians of the public interest. Today regulators need a keen eye for government-imposed barriers that can be swept away, so that technology and competition can bring consumers the ever greater wonders of the telecommunications revolution. Lowering regulatory barriers to investment and competition is not an abandonment of the states' role, but a leadership strategy that will benefit everyone.
Of course, there COULD be instances where it might be appropriate for the state to abandon its traditional role in regulation. Our country is growing ever more connected, and that technologically-driven interconnectedness may suggest re-examination of existing regulatory regimes. Sometimes it is prudent to ask whether the federal government or respective state governments can best serve as the regulatory overseer of competitive markets.
By its very text, our constitution empowers congress to regulate interstate commerce. And by implication, it frowns upon a state or states imposing regulatory costs upon other states. Claims for "states' rights" are sometimes nothing more than mere rhetoric employed special-interest, monopolistic or bureacratic institutions that seek to protect their fiefdoms.
If new technologies and developments in commerce can offer enhanced consumer protection and choice under new regulatory approaches, we should give such approaches careful consideration.
(Downtown Seattle, WA)