A Little Kvelling About 2012…

December 14th, 2012 | Posted by Larry Spiwak in Phoenix Center

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I thought I would use our final post of the year to provide a brief summary of the Phoenix Center’s many activities in 2012.   (We will be releasing a comprehensive summary of our activities in our Annual Report after the New Year.)  As always, the Phoenix Center in 2012 was both prolific and influential.

To begin, the Phoenix Center issued eight (8) scholarly papers in 2012.  The topics we covered involved a wide range of issues, including on-line intellectual property theft, spectrum exhaust, usage-based pricing, the secondary market for spectrum, the effect of regulation on investment and, perhaps most interesting, how the FCC rigged the game for continued regulation under Section 706 by deliberately ignoring their own financial analysis.  We are also extremely proud to report that no less than six Phoenix Center papers were published, or accepted for publication, in academic journals.

In 2012, the Phoenix Center also took steps to bolster its digital presence.  For example, we started @lawandeconomics, the official blog of the Phoenix Center, and authored 43 posts this year.  We took great pains to make @lawandeconomics as rigorous as our formal papers, and we hope you have found these posts useful.  We also started to participate actively on Twitter, again with our handle @lawandeconomics.

We are pleased to report that folks continue to pay attention to our work.  For example, Phoenix Center Chief Economist Dr. George Ford remains in top 1% of authors downloaded on the Social Science Research Network, and I am not far behind in the top 1.5%.  More importantly, the Phoenix Center’s webpage received over 750,000 hits in 2012, and our @lawandeconomics blog page received over 4,000 hits.  In addition, we have over 2,000 followers on Twitter.

But there is more:  Not only was our work cited prolifically in both the press and in the academic literature in 2012, but we were once again cited extensively by policymakers.  For example, the Phoenix Center’s research was cited at length in the FCC’s landmark Universal Service Reform Order earlier this year, and FCC Commissioner Rob McDowell cited our research in a speech to members of the Italian Parliament.  And in keeping with the spirit of participating in the Twittersphere, we are pleased to report that the U.S. Department of Commerce tweeted about our paper showing that on-line theft of intellectual property is not costless.

We also participated in a wide variety of conferences and Symposia.  For example, last month I was asked to give a briefing on current issues about spectrum and broadband competition to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and earlier this year I participated on a panel on the state of competition in the business broadband market at the New America Foundation.  I also participated in a Continuing Legal Education program on demand-side broadband programs for the Federal Communications Bar Association.  George, however, got the long-end of the stick when he was invited to travel to Napa Valley this year to participate in a conference sponsored by the California Foundation on Energy and the Environment (CFEE).

Not to be outdone by other conferences, however, the Phoenix Center also put on two fantastic programs this year.

This summer the Phoenix Center held its inaugural Rooftop Policy Roundtable Discussion.  Rather than hold yet another conference with laborious PowerPoint presentations, we thought the debate would be better served with some frank discussion in an informal environment.  To this end, we established our Rooftop Policy Roundtable Discussion, where we had an excellent set of interactive conversations to a standing-room only crowd with Congressman Lee Terry and a panel of experts about current policy issues in the broadband ecosystem over drinks and cigars.  (Perhaps the best compliment we received was when someone told us that not only does the Phoenix Center do the most rigorous work in the broadband space, but we are also the most fun to hang out with.)

And, just this month, the Phoenix Center held Part I of its Annual U.S. Telecoms Symposium, where we had a series of political and industry experts discuss the impact of the 2012 election on broadband policy.  We are also grateful to Commissioner Ajit Pai for delivering opening keynote remarks and, more importantly, for saying some really nice things about the Phoenix Center which I would like to quote below:

[T]he Phoenix Center has established itself as a leading voice in the national dialogue about telecommunications policy.  When I think of the Phoenix Center, one thing comes to mind: rigorous economic analysis. Your research is not driven by the political trends of the moment.  Nor do you succumb to the temptation, all too common in Washington, to engage in over-the-top rhetoric.  Instead, your approach is more akin to that of Dragnet’s Jack Webb, who would famously ask for “just the facts, ma’am.”  This strategy doesn’t necessarily make you popular all of the time.  But it does something far more important:  It makes you credible.

For those of you who may have missed it, video of Part I of the Symposium may be viewed here.  (And, of course, we invite everyone to join us for Part II of the Symposium on January 3rdThe full agenda and registration information may be found here.)

The Phoenix Center did not limit itself just to the United States this year.  In 2012, we were retained by the Government of Peru, under the auspices of USAID, to travel to Lima to give a series of lectures to their telecom regulator OSIPTEL.  A full recounting of our exploits may be found in our blog post George and Larry’s Excellent Peruvian Broadband Adventure…

But perhaps the accomplishment in 2012 we are most proud of is that my peers in the Federal Communications Bar Association bestowed upon me the FCBA’s Distinguished Service Award.  By way of background, for the last several years, I have had the privilege of serving as co-chair of the FCBA’s committee for the Federal Communications Law Journal (FCLJ).  In order to raise the quality and reputation of the Journal, my committee co-chairs and I underwent an exhaustive process to move the Journal from the Indiana School of Law to its new and current home, the George Washington University School of Law.  Equally as important, we have established a peer review process to ensure articles published in the Journal meet the highest standards of scholarship in a debate that all too often resorts to ad hominem and anecdotal arguments.  I am humbled that my peers recognized our efforts.

So, on behalf of all of us at the Phoenix Center, thank you for your support in 2012 and we look forward to picking things right back up in January.

Happy Holidays!

 

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