Search This Blog

Monday, April 11, 2011

Houses Votes to Encourage Investment and Innovation Through Passage of H.R. Res.73

The phrase "net neutrality," as it relates to the Internet, was well chosen. After all, it sounds fair. When it comes to the Internet, shouldn't broadband providers be "neutral" on all content?

But of course, when your car is in "neutral," you don't go anywhere. Going nowhere would be the best-case scenario when it comes to net neutrality.

It must be understood that net neutrality is just a nice phrase for regulating broadband Internet services. It's about government - that is, politicians and/or their appointees - dictating operational, business model and pricing decisions to broadband providers.

And that is exactly what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed doing. Net regulation would be bad news for investment and innovation, as government sticking its nose into the management of networks would serve as a discouragement to risk taking.

For good measure, there is the matter of the FCC not possessing the authority from Congress to regulate broadband services. It's a case of political appointees acting without the approval of elected officials.

U.S. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, observed in an opening statement to a February hearing: "The Internet did not become the explosive driver of communications and economic growth it is today until we turned it over to free enterprise. Dating as far back as the 1971, the FCC has consistently treated the Internet as an unregulated information service and not as a regulated telecommunications service. Congress codified this distinction in the 1996 Telecommunications Act."

Quite simply, going against the points raised by Rep. Walden and against a D.C. Circuit Court decision, the FCC is attempting a power grab.

But the House of Representatives moved to rein in the FCC on April 8 by approving H.J. Res. 73, sponsored by Rep. Walden, which would disapprove the FCC's efforts to regulate the Internet and broadband industry practices.

Voting in favor of the measure to disapprove the FCC's actions were 240 members of the House (234 Republicans and six Democrats), with 179 (2 Republicans and 177 Democrats) then supporting the FCC's overreach.

Each member supporting H. J. Res. 73 voted for innovation and investment; for the entrepreneurs and small businesses that provide broadband content and services, and use such products; and against agency regulatory abuse and overreach.

But now it's up to the Senate to make a stand. Unfortunately, that will prove to be an uphill battle. And then, of course, there is the President, who made clear his support for regulating broadband during his campaign for the White House.

Raymond Keating, Chief Economist, SBE Council

No comments: