Despite the hyperbolic rhetoric that has become commonplace around the issue of net neutrality, there are still some who are having thoughtful, reasoned conversations about the issue.
Recently, the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy convened communications industry experts and a former Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss the impact of regulations on the industry’s growth and potential. Not surprisingly, Title II and FCC Chairman Pai’s proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) were topics raised by those following the conversation on Twitter.
In regard to Title II and its effect on rural broadband deployment, former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, who also served as an executive at Frontier Communications, argued “…Title II drives up costs and disincents the kinds of investments that you want. Title II also prevents innovation in how you produce and market products…”
Following a discussion on the importance of regulatory reform in the communications industry, John Mayo, a professor of economics, business, and public policy at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, argued “the industry has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, both the industry structure has changed and the technology has changed and that means that it simply isn’t the case anymore that you can come to the conclusion that we need public utility regulations…”
We agree, and that’s why Broadband for America continues to support Chairman Pai’s review of the existing regulations through the NPRM. Title II utility regulations are not net neutrality. You can protect an open internet without the strain of utility regulations that were conceived a century before the internet even existed.
Where does the U.S. go from here? Abernathy argued that “the FCC needs to think bigger about their appropriate role, not regulate for what was, but regulate for where we are going, and what the world is looking like…to micromanage under Title II regulation…how certain companies operate is not only a waste of time and resources, it adds unnecessary costs.” Fortunately for consumers, the FCC, now under the leadership of Chairman Pai, is working to address these concerns.
The Chairman and his fellow Commissioners have been dealt the difficult task of both overcoming the obstacles of ill-suited regulations while developing a policy framework that promotes continued innovation in communications technology. Time will tell how the FCC tackles this challenge but there is broad agreement that rolling back utility regulations that impede investments in network infrastructure is a good place to start.
For more information and a video of the Georgetown event, click here.