U.S. Communications Policy:

Issues for the 1990s

IMTEC-91-52A: Published: Sep 1, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 1, 1991.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO sponsored a conference on communications technology, focusing on: (1) how the communications infrastructure should develop to promote innovation and maximize the benefits of competition; (2) the role of communications policy in promoting economic growth in the United States and competition abroad; (3) how the United States should allocate the electromagnetic spectrum to effectively support the growth of communication services as a major element of the U.S. communications infrastructure; and (4) whether the United States regulatory structure is effective at promoting technological growth and innovation and providing benefits to users.

GAO noted that: (1) the rapidly changing environment requires fundamental change to the way communications policy is developed, because technologies are converging and policymakers cannot continue to address individual technologies and modes of communication separately; (2) it is no longer possible to separate domestic and international decisions affecting communications because domestic decisions affecting communications technologies have ramifications far beyond our national borders; (3) federal authorities need to develop policy for the use of the communications infrastructure focusing on what will make the U.S. more competitive and how information will be used by individuals; and (4) policymakers and regulators can promote technological growth and innovation and provide benefits to users by identifying and eliminating artificial impediments that could frustrate industry's efforts to invest in the public infrastructure.