FCC Claims Dire Net Neutrality Predictions Are Unfounded
Open-Internet-opposing "big dogs" -- ISPs threatening to starve their investments in broadband networks -- are more bark than bite, according to comments made Friday by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler (pictured).
Since the FCC issued its ground-breaking Open Internet Order in March, such opponents' predictions about eroding incentives to invest have failed to materialize, he said. Wheeler made his remarks in a speech at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. During his talk, he also discussed the importance of continuing to develop the nation's broadband networks to ensure access to "everyone, everywhere."
The FCC's order on Net neutrality reclassified broadband providers as Title II "common carriers" subject to regulations in the public interest to ensure their services do not discriminate against any class of customers. Proponents of that reclassification -- four million people submitted comments to the FCC ahead of its decision -- said it was needed to prevent the development of an unequal Internet where organizations with more money could pay for "fast-lane" priority service over others.
FCC Won't Let Up on Open Broadband
Wheeler began his comments by noting the decision earlier this month by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to deny a petition by several opponents to stay the order. The court ruled on June 12 that there was "no merit" to the arguments for a stay made by the National Association of Broadcasters, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the CTIA Wireless Association and others.
With broadband delivery costs continuing to decline and broadband-related innovations expanding, "we’re not going to let imaginary concerns about investment incentives and utility regulation cause us to let up on policies to encourage fast, fair, and open broadband," Wheeler said.
"As you know, this was a big argument by the ISPs in their stay request; that somehow assuring that networks are open would erode the incentive to invest," he said. "Fortunately, there is a disconnect between what is said in Washington advocacy and what happens in the market. While a few big dogs are threatening to starve investment, others are stepping up."
Among those who have publicly stated Title II reclassification won't discourage their investments are the CEOS of Sprint, T-Mobile, Cablevision, Charter, and Frontier, according to Wheeler. And post-order broadband spending announcements by AT&T, Comcast, Cox Cable and Time Warner Cable, among others, "certainly speak for themselves," he said.
World Was Watching U.S. on Net Neutrality
The FCC's Open Internet Order was "obviously momentous for people in the U.S., but the rest of the world was watching," Josh Levy, advocacy director for the organization Access Now, told us. He said the efforts of supporters in the U.S. are likely to pave the way for similar actions by open Internet advocates in the European Union, which is currently eyeing legislation that could threaten Net neutrality.
Access Now is one of a number of organizations opposing that legislation through a European "Save the Internet" campaign.
Since the FCC issued its order, Levy said, "the sky hasn't fallen . . . and I don't think any investors are losing money." However, the order now provides ordinary people with recourse against ISPs that don't deliver promised services, he added.
Warnings that Net neutrality would hamper investment "have always been a pretty big red herring," Evan Engstrom, policy director at Engine, a tech entrepreneurship advocate organization, told us. Rather than creating uncertainty for businesses, the FCC order solidified it for investment-hungry startups, he said.
Previously, small tech startups could find it hard to attract investment if backers worried the companies might have to pay extra for fast-lane-type Internet services, Engstrom said. Such concerns make it really hard to raise capital, he said.
The FCC's stance on the open Internet helped to eliminate worries about potentially unequal or more costly broadband access, Engstrom said. "It answers that question in a bright-line way," he said.
Posted: 2015-06-27 @ 6:21pm PT
@wtf: Yes after only a week in to the new order. That's because the order was ratified by the FCC in February - 4 months back. Get it?
Posted: 2015-06-27 @ 10:08am PT
Really, after just a week or so? Idiot.