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Laissez Faire 'Net Plan Lauded

The Internet has flourished in part because of the Federal Communications Commission's hands-off approach to regulating it, says a study released by commission staffers.

The working paper examines the commission's policies over 30 years and credits several of the commission's policies in helping foster the growth of the medium. It also recommends that the FCC follow a similar path in the future, considering only the minimum necessary regulatory action to address anti-competitive behavior.

The paper, from the FCC's Office of Plans and Policy, represents the views of individual staffers and are not official statements by the commission or its commissioners.

The study cited the commission's role in developing a reliable and affordable telephone system over which data services could be offered as enabling the Internet to prosper. FCC policies also have helped to keep dial-up Internet access costs down by exempting enhanced service providers from the access charges paid by other types of carriers.

Deregulation of the telecommunications equipment market has enabled users to connect their own equipment, such as modems, to access the network.

The paper also recommends that the chartered course of action continue into the future and advises against the FCC simply imposing regulations developed for old technologies on new Internet-based technologies. Instead the study suggests that the commission should review those old services with any eye toward deregulation.

The commission still must be wary of anti-competitive behavior in the market, such as bottlenecks and tying up lines. But the paper urges that any responses should be at the bare minimum and should outweigh the costs of regulation.