What is the True Cost of a Set-Top Box?

Under Section 629 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (‘‘FCC’’) is directed to take steps to create a retail market for cable set-top boxes. Over the past two decades, the Commission has tried twice to do so. Despite imposing an estimated $1 billion in costs on the American consumer, the FCC’s repeated efforts have proved futile. This article is critical of the Obama Administration’s approach to telecommunication law and advocates congressional action that would hold the administration accountable. It delineates several reforms that would help accomplish this end.

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