Regulate or rely on market forces? It's telecom's turn to look at the question and Gartner Inc.'s Dataquest Inc. analysts just released their two cents' worth.

The research group called on President Bush to consider a market approach to policy.

While spectrum auctions bring in billions of dollars, which come from carriers and consumers and go to programs, Dataquest says, the funds could be better applied to financial incentives for developing advanced networks and stimulating the economy.

"The unintended outcome of the hidden tax forced carriers everywhere to curtail infrastructure investments," says principal analyst Ron Cowles in a statement. "Because the telecommunications sector is so large, the investment slowdown has actually slowed the U.S. economy. …

"While others would argue that new rules are required to break a monopolist's hold on the local exchange marketplace, we would argue that economic incentives are a better solution," he adds.

Incentives include investment tax credits, streamlining any rules or laws that inhibit infrastructure placement, and modifying rules or laws inhibiting competition, Dataquest says. Incentives should be available to all common carriers committed to infrastructure deployment, regardless of technology or whether the project is an upgrade, replacement or move into unserved areas, it adds.

The group also called for new definitions of equal and universal access, including redefining common carriage from a voice to an information infrastructure.

Other information is in Dataquest's alert, Mr. President: A Change in Telecom Policy Will Promote Your Economic Agenda.