Americans deserve an open Internet: they had it before the recent D.C. Court decision, and they will continue to enjoy it now.
The Court’s decision held that the FCC plays an important role in promoting a vibrant Internet with sufficient authority to police bad actors. Some are unsatisfied and want the FCC to have an even more muscular role over the Internet. They are pushing for the FCC to retreat from the long-standing bipartisan policy of light regulation and dump Internet services into the heavy regulatory bucket of the old-monopoly telephone system. The FCC would gain more power, but the Internet would suffer. One must ask, is the Internet so sick that it needs a heavy injection of rules and regulations to fix it? The answer is no.
By nearly any objective measure, the U.S. is a world leader in broadband. If you compare similarly sized regions, 10 of the top 16 fastest Internet regions in the world are American states. We are one of only two countries to have three different fully deployed broadband technologies actively competing against one another (cable, telephone, and 4G LTE wireless); and we have some of the most advanced networks in the world – connections capable of 100 Mbps and faster are available to 85 percent of U.S. homes (in Europe, connections of 30 Mbps or faster reach only 54 percent). U.S. broadband networks have given rise to the world’s top web companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter, and new exciting start-ups are born every day.
The U.S. invests more in broadband networks than any other country. Since the mid-1990’s, private companies have invested over $1 trillion to build and maintain our networks. Americans are just four percent of the world’s population but we have 25 percent of the world’s broadband investment. Today, broadband reaches 99 percent of Americans and, according to the White House, the broadband industry was one of the leading investors in the American economy even during the economic downturn.
We have an “open Internet.” Broadband providers continue to support the principles of an open Internet that allow consumers to access lawful websites when, where and how they choose. They support these concepts because they are what customers demand and they are good for business.
Reclassifying the Internet and applying telephone-era rules will choke off growth and investment. It would treat broadband as a common carrier service giving the FCC far reaching power to regulate rates and set economic terms and conditions for the markets. The confidence that our national broadband policy rests squarely on a light regulatory foundation would be fractured. Network investment would suffer, and the push to reach more households would slow. The FCC clearly has sufficent authority to protect consumers from harm and preserve the principles of openness we all share. We shouldn’t let imaginary tales of apocalypse lead us to abandon the light regulatory model that has served the Nation so well.