A critical discourse analysis of how the telecommunications industry influenced VoIP deregulation legislation in 36 states

Gwen Shaffer


About 36 U.S. states have enacted legislation that eliminates or reduces the authority of local and state agencies to regulate voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) telephone services. This study draws on critical discourse analysis to examine how lawmakers and telecommunications providers associated widely supported policy goals — including job creation, technological innovation, consumer protection, digital equity and modernization — with less government oversight of phone and broadband services. The discourse surrounding passage of VoIP deregulation provides key insights into how the telecommunications industry, and legislative sponsors of the bills, adopted culturally symbolic phrases and touted populist goals to legitimize policies that weaken consumer protections. Ultimately, these policy frames — found within the dialogues and texts presented to various audiences — shape the rules and regulations governing a technology integral to daily life.


telecommunications policy; deregulation; critical discourse analysis; VoIP; policy frames

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v23i1.8142

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