More political scientists should engage in the debates surrounding regulation of communications networks, the infrastructure on which telecom, media, and Internet services ride. In 1990 there were 14 communications regulators worldwide, by 2007 there were 148. To fulfill World Trade Organization Agreement on Basic Telecommunications commitments, many countries aim to create regulatory agencies that are “independent.” What characterizes independence? Regulators are embedded in a political context that includes three main constituencies : other government institutions, industry, and consumers. Independent regulators are able to take action autonomously from other government institutions and industry while serving as advocates for consumers. In a survey of 18 countries, several traits emerge; a leader who cannot be dismissed arbitrarily, regulatory authority clearly distinct from policymaking, independent funding, minimal staff exchange between regulator and regulated firm, and dedicated support for consumers. It is usually easier for a regulator to be independent if operators are privatized. In a study of 4 countries, independent regulators follow decision-making procedures that give the public notice about proposed rule changes, opportunities to provide comments, and final decisions with explanation. Also, independent regulators have gift, conflict of interest, and post-employment rules, which set ethical standards and expectations for staff.