[Commentary] Two-hundred forty-five days. School districts are waiting this long for the Federal Communications Commission to make decisions on the fate of funding to bring fiber connectivity to their classrooms. That’s 65 days longer than the average school year. And for Woodman School in rural Montana, it means another school year that students must be bused to a neighboring district for assessments because high-speed internet access is not an option. No school should have to wait that long to provide basic educational opportunity for its students.
[Commentary] Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has a lot on his plate. On top of running a critical independent federal agency, he now must do so under a cloud of hate speech and death threats directed at him and his young children. This behavior is unacceptable in any circumstance, and it is an especially sad irony that it’s being directed at a public servant who has made it his No.
Here’s a rundown of promises kept, partially fulfilled and in need of action come 2018:
A promise fulfilled: President Donald Trump followed through on his stated information technology modernization goals by issuing an executive order on May 1 that created the American Technology Council.
Scorching criticism of internet service providers over their stance on net neutrality for much of 2017 hasn’t hurt their standing with US consumers — though some weren’t that popular to begin with. For Comcast, there was practically nowhere to go but up. Thirty-two percent of respondents had a very or somewhat favorable view of Comcast the day Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced his repeal plans; 26 percent had an unfavorable opinion. By Nov.
As the Federal Communications Commission moves forward with plans to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules, a new Morning Consult/Politico poll shows bipartisan support for keeping the regulations in place. Fifty-two percent of registered voters in a Nov. 21-25 poll said they support the current rules, which stipulate that internet service providers like Comcast Corp., AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) wants to repeal the current net neutrality rules — even if it takes amending antitrust law. But economist Hal Singer says that’s not the solution. While antitrust law has typically sought to address “concrete harms” like price increases, it hasn’t recognized what he calls “mild forms of discrimination.” That includes an ISP prioritizing one set of internet content over another to promote its own interests to the detriment of its competitors.
House Communications and Technology Chairman Marsha Blackbur (R-TN) is open to using federal antitrust laws to fix the long-running debate over net neutrality. “It’s helpful to consider the complete spectrum of law shielding American consumers from anticompetitive behavior,” she said. “It’s clear that internet service providers are not the only potential roadblock standing between a consumer and his or her content of choice,” she said .
[Commentary] When the Federal Communications Commission made its decision two years ago to regulate the internet as a public utility, the harm came to small towns and rural communities almost immediately. Internet companies nationwide slowed or stopped plans to invest in improving and expanding their services due to new legal and compliance costs. For rural America, those regulations presented yet another hurdle to gaining access to modern broadband services that urban areas have enjoyed for years.
Recently, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his plan to correct that mistake. Pai’s plan has sparked an unusual amount of handwringing by some people with misguided ideas on how to ensure the internet economy continues to thrive.
[Betsy Huber is president of National Grange.]
Top GOP lawmakers involved in telecommunications policy are calling on congressional Democrats and Republicans to draft bipartisan legislation that would maintain the principles of an open internet following Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s announcement that the agency will take steps to reverse its 2015 network neutrality rules.
“Consumers want an open internet that doesn’t discriminate on content and protects free speech and consumer privacy,” Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), House Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said in a joint statement. “It’s now time for Republicans and Democrats, internet service providers, edge providers, and the internet community as a whole to come together and work toward a legislative solution that benefits consumers and the future of the internet."
[Commentary] The truth is: Our internet was open, dynamic and growing before the Title II disruption, and it will remain so after. Those who say there’s only one true path to net neutrality need to join the rest of us in the real world where heavy-handed, archaic policies have zero shot at being as quick, nimble, smart, adaptive and transformative as the dynamic and transformative technology they seek to manage.
There is near-universal support for enforceable open internet safeguards. There is no such mandate to regulate US internet infrastructure back to the Stone Age. These are two very different debates that must be kept distinct. Title II can’t deliver a modern, thriving and open internet. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s more surgical approach likely can. It’s time to take the clean and clear win.
[Jonathan Spalter is president and CEO of USTelecom]