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Calls Grow for Congress To Act for an #OpenInternet


02.12.15

Last month, House and Senate Republicans put forward draft legislation to protect a free and open Internet. The legislation would accomplish the goals all sides share to enact strong consumer protections in a way that leaves job creators the incentive to continue innovating and investing in state-of-the-art broadband networks. Equally important, the draft legislation avoids the risk of costly and lengthy court battles, providing certainty to consumers and providers alike.

Recognizing the prolonged uncertainty that would result from the FCC’s action, The Washington Post editorial board today called for Congress, not the FCC, to act, specifically citing the “new world of federal regulation” that would come from Title II reclassification. In addition to the Post editorial, former Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Fred Campbell, who served as Chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and now works with the Internet Innovation Alliance, added their voices to the debate. In The Wall Street Journal, the pair expressed caution against the heavy-handed utility-style regulation, pointing to Europe as an example of what can happen from such action.

“We have a workable legislative solution that all sides should be able to rally around to ensure the Internet continues to thrive for generations. This is far preferable to a non-legislative fix that will see this issue tied up in the courts for years, and slow tens of billions of capital improvements to the Internet, let alone new taxes on broadband,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

“Bipartisan voices are sounding the alarm to the FCC that monopoly era telephone regulation is wrong for the internet. With the White House pulling the strings, the FCC will be ignoring decades of evidence that these regulations hamper the kind of innovation and investment that has greatly benefited consumers and driven job creation,” added Communication and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR).

February 11, 2015

Editorial: Settle the net-neutrality debate with legislation

In the war over net neutrality, it’s clear where the country should end up. Americans should pay for the bandwidth they consume, and they should consume any legal content they want, without interference from the network operators that transport the packets of information into their homes. That’s not just the way to maintain the free flow of information and services on which the Internet thrives; it’s also the way to encourage service providers to improve their networks rather than just manage traffic on their existing wires.

But government efforts to create a policy environment in which that aim is achieved have been erratic and, lately, the subject of intense controversy. That has led the Federal Communications Commission toward approving a net-neutrality plan that carries some serious collateral risks. It would be better if Congress finally did its job and agreed on a legislated plan that avoids more bureaucratic wrangling. …

Read the full editorial online HERE.

February 11, 2015

Why Download Europe’s Lousy Broadband Policy?
Treating the Internet like a utility has been tried, with deleterious effects on innovation and costs
By Rick Boucher and Fred Campbell

As the Federal Communications Commission prepares to treat Internet companies like public utilities under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, it is worth asking how government regulation of the Internet would actually work. Conveniently enough, Europe has been experimenting with heavy-handed Internet regulation since 2002, and the results are a warning of what the U.S. can expect.

That is the conclusion of a new study by our organization, the Internet Innovation Alliance, a coalition of businesses and nonprofits. Over the past two decades, the U.S. has benefited from a bipartisan, light-touch broadband regulatory regime that has spurred more capital investment, more competition and—perhaps most important—more broadband capacity than in the European Union, which has a larger population and similar economy. …

So where does this leave us? Net-neutrality proponents assume that the impact of common-carrier regulations will be minimal and that the U.S. will maintain its technology lead forever, but the European regulatory example suggests that such an outcome is far from certain. It is more likely that imposing regulations crafted for last century’s monopoly telephone service will have a crippling and chilling effect on broadband investment. Investment drives innovation: As the Internet Innovation Alliance study demonstrates, Europe has fallen badly behind the U.S. …

Sufficient investment and innovation are needed to prevent Internet capability in the U.S. from declining, an alarming prospect for one of the economy’s most dynamic sectors. Furthermore, adding regulations while Europe scales back may send capital overseas to a more welcoming investment environment.

Mr. Boucher, a former Democratic congressman from Virginia, is a partner at Sidley Austin LLP and honorary chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance. Mr. Campbell, formerly chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Bureau, is the author of the study discussed in this op-ed.

Read the full column online here.

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