Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

57 Federal Communications Law Journal 107 (2004)


The wireline telephone industry in the United States is the most complete and sophisticated system in the world, built under 100 years of strict government regulation. While the wireline telephone industry was built under a scheme emphasizing regulatory control, the infancy of the wireless telephone industry has been subject to increasing deregulation and reliance on free market forces to guide the industry's development. It has been suggested that this shift in policy reflects the acknowledged failure of strict government regulation. This Note argues that the shift in regulatory policy reflects a difference in circumstances between the development of the wireless and wireline industries, and that the effects of regulation in the wireline industry played a critical part in the initial success of the wireless industry. The historical development of the wireless and wireline industries are compared and specific attention is paid to the implications of the Telecommunication Act of 1996 and its wireless number portability provisions. This Note argues that differences between the two industries dictate different approaches to regulation, and details the benefits of the differing approaches. This Note concludes by examining the FCC's new role in regulating the telecommunications industry as reflected by a review of the wireless number portability implementation.