Gus Hurwitz

Gus Hurwitz

Gus Hurwitz, a visiting fellow at AEI's Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy, is an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law, where he teaches telecommunications law, cyber law, law and economics, and other regulation-related subjects. His research builds on his background in law, technology, and economics to consider the interface between law and technology and the role of regulation in high-tech industries. He has a particular expertise in telecommunications law and technology. He was previously the inaugural research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition, and before that was a visiting assistant professor at George Mason University Law School. He previously spent several years as a trial attorney with the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s Telecommunications and Media Enforcement Section. Hurwitz has a background in technology and worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory. During this time, his work was recognized with professional awards from organizations such as the Federal Laboratory Consortium, R&D Magazine, Los Alamos National Lab, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California. In addition, he held an Internet2 Land Speed world record with the Guinness Book of World Records. Hurwitz is a co-blogger at Truth on the Market.
Supreme Court by Shutterstock

Did the Supreme Court just drive a stick into the spokes of the FCC’s Virtuous Cycle?

One of the most potent pending challenges to the FCC’s Open Internet Order will be based on the Supreme Court’s opinion last year in Utility Air Regulatory Group. That case, which the court has affirmatively cited several times this past term, rejected EPA efforts to “tailor” provisions of the Clean Air Act, effectively rewriting the Act to facilitate its policy goals. There is a strong – if not perfect – analogy to be drawn between the EPA’s approach to the Clean Air Act in that case and the FCC’s need to use forbearance in the Open Internet Order to make the rules viable. The court’s latest rejection of the EPA’s efforts to stretch the limits of the Clean Air Act to reach its own policy goals presents yet another potent challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet Order.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere speaks at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 8, 2014. REUTERS

Is T-Mobile’s John Legere a dingo?

John Legere likes free stuff. He really likes free stuff. A lot. As I discussed last week, in its planned merger with Dish, T-Mobile (of which Legere is CEO) stands to benefit from Dish’s successful manipulation of the FCC’s AWS-3 auction rules to get over $3 billion in free spectrum. A few years ago, T-Mobile was given $4 billion in cash and spectrum break-up fees by AT&T when the FCC blocked the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. And in the past week, Legere has redoubled his efforts to secure substantial spectrum “set-asides” from the FCC that would benefit T-Mobile in the upcoming incentive auction, releasing an entertaining and profanity-laced video that falls just one step short of calling FCC Chairman Wheeler a dingo.
Spectrum by Shutterstock

The Dish/T-Mobile merger and the first rule of Spectrum Club

The first rule of Spectrum Club is… get spectrum as quickly as possible into the hands of someone who will put it to its highest-value use. So long as spectrum gets into the hands of firms that can effectively and quickly put it to use, the consumer benefits are roughly the same no matter who wins spectrum at auction. Conversely, delaying this process even by a few months – for instance, by designing complex rules in an effort to maximize the revenue raised by an auction, or by jury-rigging the results to ensure politically favorable outcomes – can have substantial costs for consumers. The recent AWS-3 auction demonstrates what can go wrong when the FCC violates this first rule of spectrum auctions. Curiously, the pending Dish/T-Mobile merger presents the FCC with an opportunity to make things worse in an effort to correct its auction design mistakes.
Enforcement by Shutterstock

Agencies in Wonderland: Due process and enforcement at the FTC and FCC

One well-established way of making law is for those in power to publicly, and often brutally, take action against those engaging in disfavored conduct. Displaying the decapitated heads of criminals on pikes; public executions; the stockades; tarring and feathering – these all serve to establish societal norms by making clear the consequences of violating those norms. But, while well-established, these approaches are also disfavored in modern societies. The history of such disfavor is typically traced back to the Magna Carta – signed 800 years ago next month – the first modern statement that the government is not above the law and that its citizens cannot be deprived of rights without due process of the law. Unfortunately, the FTC – and it increasingly seems the FCC as well – does not feel bound by these principles of due process.

Back to the future by blocking the Comcast/TWC merger: How the government is killing competition

The big news last week was the withdrawal of the Comcast/TWC merger. Actually, no. The even bigger news was Verizon’s plans to offer “skinny bundles.” After decades of complaining, consumers will be able to pay only for the TV they want to watch. Actually, no. The biggest news is that ESPN is suing – and other programmers are threatening to sue – Verizon for offering consumers this flexibility. This is the biggest news out of last week because it reveals the power dynamics at play in the video industry. In particular, it tells us something about the relationship between programmers (the ESPNs of the world) and distributors (the Verizons and Comcasts of the world). And it tells us something about the Comcast/TWC merger, and why the government was wrong to block it.