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Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 2, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Net neutrality: U.S. a leader for the ‘open Internet’

Your editorial on the recent net neutrality decision [“FCC must protect Internet users, net neutrality,” Opinion, Jan. 15] misses a few important points.

First, by most measures, the U.S. is a world leader in broadband. We have the most affordable entry-level pricing; are one of only two countries with three competing broadband technologies; and have networks capable of 100 Mbps or faster are available to 85 percent of U.S. households (as compared to Europe, where connections of 30-plus Mbps reach only 54 percent of households). Our broadband investments lead the world and double our nearest rival.

Second, we have had an “open Internet” long before the FCC’s 2010 regulations, and the court’s decision does not change broadband providers’ commitment to giving consumers access to lawful Web content whenever they choose. Moreover, the court affirmed the FCC’s authority to ensure the nationwide deployment of broadband.

Third, some critics now want the FCC to reclassify the Internet as an old-style “telecommunications service” and regulate it as a “common carrier” like the Ma Bell telephone monopoly. Back then, the government regulated prices, profits and the terms of competition within the industry. But since the Clinton administration, there has been wide, bipartisan consensus that broadband is not like the old Ma Bell telephone monopoly and should not be regulated as such. We shouldn’t go back to rotary phone-era regulations any more than we should go back to dial-up Internet connections.

There have been scant instances alleging that broadband providers breached the principles of an open Internet, and such controversies were resolved cooperatively and quickly. An open Internet is in everyone’s interest, including ours.

We should be focused on finding the “next big thing” rather than re-litigating debates that time has passed by.

Michael K. Powell, former FCC chairman (2001-05), president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association

0 Comments | More in Internet | Topics: broadband, FCC, Internet

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