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Washington: Keep traffic speeding along the Information Superhighway

iThe remarkable growth of the Internet over the last 20 years has largely been driven by technological advances, but proposed regulations threaten to put the brakes on this communications medium that has been a boon to business and consumers alike.

Thanks in part to the light regulatory touch the federal and state governments have applied to broadband service, the vast majority of Americans now have access to high-speed Internet. Stable rules, market forces and competition have combined to create a vibrant industry. But some regulators in Washington want to apply 1930s thinking to our 21st century broadband network, and that could have negative consequences for companies, commerce and customers.

Todd Sanders

Todd Sanders

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeks to reinstate two Open Internet rules recently invalidated by a federal court. Some are proposing the FCC take the radical step of forcing broadband providers — currently classified as “information services,” over which the FCC has no authority — to comply with a set of laws and regulations known as Title II that were enacted as part of the New Deal in the 1930s to regulate a phone business monopoly.

Reclassifying broadband providers as “public utilities” would come with risks and costs. Rather than letting companies innovate and respond to their customers and market demand with new services, Title II would require approval of every new idea by Washington bureaucrats. Consumers would see new taxes and fees on their broadband service bills similar to what they see on their phone bills today. Consumer protections — like oversight by the Federal Trade Commission — would disappear. And the Internet would begin to resemble another crumbling network subjected to heavy government oversight: the interstate highway system.

The broadband market here in the Valley of the Sun is highly competitive and provides affordable, fast Internet for residents and businesses. Broadband access is driving innovation and revitalization in Phoenix’s downtown core, with high-tech and medical companies and campuses utilizing high-speed Internet to facilitate their research and discoveries. Over-regulation by the FCC could slow down those gains and our economic recovery.

The FCC should continue its “light touch” regulatory practices and reinstate the Open Internet rules in a sensible way that ensures the Internet will continue to drive innovation in our Valley, our state and our nation.

— Todd Sanders is president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

3 comments

  1. I wonder one thing. The Internet is global national and local. Countries might want to think about rules and regulations and how “we the people” should utilize something so massive. Just like air pollution the Internet can have it’s share of pollution. To ignore this is not good for us.

  2. It’s important to note that this article is essentially from COMCAST.

    Chamber of Commerce = Comcast, Time Warner, Walmart…

    Additionally Todd Sanders has no tech industry background… so it’s essentially an article from someone who has no idea what he’s talking about.

  3. The only innovation ISPs are interested in is how to make more money for providing the same level of service. Much of the current transmission lines are subsidized through public/federal funds, and they would never upgrade these if there wasn’t regulatory pressure to do so. You’re argument against this would be that less regulation would allow them to compete and innovate, but they have no reason to compete or innovate because there is very little competition in the markets they serve.

    Now, lets run down the list of things your article mentions and point out the flaws in your reasoning:

    “The remarkable growth of the internet over the last 20 years has largely been driven by technological advances…”

    The growth of the internet over the last 20 years was made possible by inexpensive access to high-speed internet, no data limits for residential users, and neutral carrier treatment. The reason the internet has grown is due to the content providers thriving in that environment.

    “…but proposed regulations threaten to put the brakes on this communications medium that has been a boon to business and consumers alike. Thanks in part to the light regulatory touch the federal and state governments have applied to broadband service, the vast majority of Americans now have access to high-speed Internet. Stable rules, market forces and competition have combined to create a vibrant industry.”

    Deregulation of the US ISP industry has led to one of the slowest download speeds in the world. There is very little competition between ISPs in a single market. This article goes into much more detail about the issue than you have taken the time to opine about. http://theweek.com/article/index/257404/why-is-american-internet-so-slow

    If you are going to state an opinion intended to convince readers that government regulation is bad for the internet, you should at least provide factual support for your statements.

    “Some are proposing the FCC take the radical step of forcing broadband providers — currently classified as “information services,” over which the FCC has no authority — to comply with a set of laws and regulations known as Title II that were enacted as part of the New Deal in the 1930s to regulate a phone business monopoly.”

    Now as far as what set of laws and regulations would apply to ISPs if they were categorized as public utilities, I’m not sure of. There are upsides and downsides of everything, but you’ve hardly given the idea a fair shake, and your assumptions of the outcomes are unreliable given the gross distortion of reality earlier in the article. In my view the U.S. would be better off drafting new legislation governing how ISPs should be regulated, and establishing inherent protections for both content providers and content users.

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