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As the FCC Acts Again on Net Neutrality, Congress Should Take Leadership and Settle this Debate

For the fifth time in seven years, ITI has submitted comments on Net Neutrality as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) again weighs changing the rules—ITI's position supporting a free and open internet remains unchanged. Instead, what has crystalized is the need for Congress to act and settle the matter with certainty for the future of the internet.

Over the past two decades, the internet has forever transformed the American economy: businesses large and small sell their products to global markets, family members spread across continents and time zones communicate with each other in real-time video for free, and applications simplify our everyday routines. The adherence to free and open internet principles have widely contributed to this success, enabling the development of some of the most innovative 21st century technologies that have fundamentally transformed and benefited not only our economy, but also our daily lives.

And yet, as the internet dramatically advanced the way we live, the debate in Washington on how to regulate the internet has remained much the same, due in large part to ambiguity in the law on how to enforce widely accepted openness concepts. For this reason, ITI has again submitted comments to the FCC on how the agency should preserve an open internet.

To build on the economic momentum of a free and open internet, and to affirm the internet as a platform accessible to the nearly 3.2 billion people who use it, ITI favors cementing principles that deepen trust, stimulate network investment, promote innovation, and spur economic growth. These principles include protecting the consumer by restraining blocking and throttling activities and safeguarding an open internet; maintaining consumer transparency requirements; promoting investment in faster, more robust broadband networks and universal Internet access; and creating an innovation-friendly environment for entrepreneurs.

Today, these highly-debated considerations have once again been raised with the FCC’s most recent proposal to return to the light-touch regulatory framework by classifying the internet as an information service. As the FCC continues to accept feedback from consumers and industry on this proposal through the reply comment round, ITI feels strongly that a balanced approach can, and must, be taken to devise more lasting internet regulations.

No matter how the FCC decides to move forward, though, these rules could easily be changed again with the political winds of future administrations. To prevent this potential uncertainty, which negatively impacts all stakeholders, we will urge Congress to come together on bipartisan legislation that provides strong protections for consumers, fosters competition, and contributes to the ongoing cycle of technological innovation. To be clear, several members in both chambers have called for this, and we applaud their willingness to roll up their sleeves. ITI urges Congress to work together in a bipartisan manner and in an effort to tackle this issue and end the uncertainty.

Without a free and open internet, many of our member companies would not exist today and innovators would find a more daunting path in developing transformative technologies that benefit our society and economy. Without incentives to invest in robust broadband networks, many more of our member companies would not still be in business. We encourage the FCC to recognize this important balance as it moves ahead. In addition, we stand ready to work with all parties to craft a bipartisan, permanent legislative solution.

Public Policy Tags: Broadband, Communications, & Spectrum