Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

50 Federal Communications Law Journal 547 (1998)


In 1993, recognizing that state and local regulatory practices were harmful to the development of widespread low-cost commercial and personal mobile radio services, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, legislation that freed wireless carriers from a dual federal-state regulatory structure. As a result, sections 332 and 2(b) of the Communications Act were revised to endow the FCC with exclusive jurisdiction over wireless regulation. Unfortunately, some courts and regulators have concluded that Congress did not intend to grant the FCC exclusive authority over wireless communications. Such rulings could be attributed to a misguided focus on traditional preemption analysis rather than the actual jurisdictional boundaries drawn by congressional legislation. Eventually these developments may shackle new wireless services to old regulatory structures, a result that would thwart congressional goals and hinder the growth of this emerging industry. If the wireless industry's promise is to be fully realized, relying upon market forces to address consumer needs, as Congress intended, is an experiment well worth seeing through to its conclusion.