Bridge Span 17-9: Statement on Restoring Internet Freedom Order

The FCC draft Restoring Internet Freedom Order released this week is exactly the step needed to place the internet back on the path that it had been on for decades, a path that benefits all consumers. The Order ends the government control adventurism of the previous administration by allowing consumers to take charge of their online experience, and shunning government control of user’s communications. In addition, adoption of this order will bring back the balance of light touch regulation intended by the 1996 Telecommunications Act that created an environment of internet freedom encouraging billions of dollars in private investment in broadband facilities. Billions more in new investment will now follow to the benefit of all consumers.

And, as importantly, given that the internet is by its very nature interstate, the Commission should take action to implement a national policy framework for internet services to ensure uniformity across the country. By design, only through the power of the states was a federal government formed. State control is paramount. However, there is also a clear role for the federal government as the Founding Father’s envisioned. Without clear FCC action to implement a national framework, the states are poised to carve up the internet into a series of systems, each regulated in its own way, ultimately creating a patchwork quilt that is antithetical to the very nature of the interest we understand. Plus, such radical uncertainty is the bane of investment and particularly of short and long-term capital expenditure. Today’s article in Morning Consult explains further.

For the first time all of those interested in the issue can review the draft order, being released weeks before the vote instead of kept in secret and sprung upon the commissioners in the minority and the American people. The vote in December will surely right the wrong done to the internet ecosystem for the last several years, and it comes none too soon. In the communications policy space there is much to be thankful for this year.

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