Faculty member's book examines U.S. role in global telecommunications

May 05, 2010

A forthcoming book by a Penn State faculty member examines how and why the United States lost its "digital advantage," and whether the country can regain its status in an ever-changing global communications marketplace.

Professor Rob Frieden -- in "Winning the Silicon Sweepstakes: Can the U.S. Compete in Global Telecommunications?" (2010, Yale University Press) -- challenges conventional wisdom and sponsored research that the United States has best-in-class telecommunications infrastructure and services produced by an optimal, competitive marketplace.

"I demonstrate that the glide path of deregulation has handicapped the nation's competitive advantage, and has contributed to a comparatively mediocre standing of the United States in both broadband and wireless markets," Frieden said. "We need smarter, better-calibrated, light-handed regulation, coupled with efforts to promote greater consumer digital literacy."

The book addresses questions about several key issues, including:
-- how did $1 trillion invested as part of the "information revolution" largely evaporate;
-- how can incumbent telephone companies successfully argue the need for next generation investment incentives while at the same time claiming robust competition justifies deregulation; and
-- how can nations successfully bridge a "digital divide" between residents that have access to information because of technology and those who do not?

"Rather than rely almost exclusively on marketplace self-regulation, portions of the telecommunications marketplace need a government referee able to solve disputes and safeguard consumers," Frieden said.

Frieden holds the Pioneers Chair in Cable Telecommunications in the College of Communications. In addition to his teaching and research, he provides corporate training, legal counsel and consulting services in such diverse fields as personal and mobile communications, facilities interconnection, satellites and privatization.

He is a leading analyst in the field of telecommunications and Internet infrastructure and has authored many comprehensive works on international telecommunications, cable satellite television and communications law.

He previously published: "Managing Internet-Driven Change in International Telecommunications" (2001, Artech); and "International Telecommunications Handbook" (1996, Artech), a comprehensive book on the law and policy of international telecommunications. He most recently provided book chapters for " ... And Communications for All -- A Policy Agenda for A New Administration" (2009, Lexington Books); "The Economics of Digital Markets" (2009, Edward Elgar Publishing); and "Governing Global Electronic Networks -- International Perspectives on Policy and Power" (2008, MIT Press).

At the 2009 Pacific Telecommunications Conference, Frieden earned the Meheroo Jussawalla PTC Research Paper Prize for his paper, "The Spin in Broadband Statistics: Finding Ways to Make a Credible Assessment of Next Generation Network Deployment."

Frieden has served on several telecommunications and trade delegations and has authored numerous articles and papers that have appeared in law reviews, trade journals and proceedings of major conferences. He is a frequently invited speaker to forums hosted by organizations such as the American Bar Association, the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations and the World Bank.

Prior to joining Penn State, Frieden was Deputy Director, International Relations, Motorola Satellite Communications Inc., where he managed the regulatory and international liaison efforts for Motorola's IRIDIUM low earth orbiting satellite project. He has held senior level policy making positions in government and worked in the private sector as an attorney. His portfolio included transactional, regulatory, corporate affairs, and liaison work for satellite, fiber optic, and microwave carriers; cable television systems; broadcasters; high volume telecommunications users; cellular radio carriers; teleport operators; information service providers; and equipment manufacturers.

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Last Updated July 28, 2017