The bad things â€śnet neutralityâ€ť was supposed to address were not happening, but the drawbacks it imposes on todayâ€™s Internet are real. Innovation, investment, and expansion have suffered. From 2014 to 2016, spanning the time net neutrality went from consideration to implementation, wireless capital investment declined by $6.8 billion, or about 20%. It shrank even as traffic grew. Companies find themselves spending more on compliance with the FCCâ€™s rules and less on their actual business. They are reluctant to make long-term decisions about investment because they donâ€™t know what rules the FCC will establish under Title II. The companies best positioned to survive in this era are the big companies that currently dominate the market. Start-ups will be grounded before they ever take off. â€śNet neutralityâ€ť freezes in place the status quo.
This development is bad news for rural areas like much of Southwest Virginia. More money for investment should expand broadband networks into areas they havenâ€™t yet touched, but â€śnet neutralityâ€ť has had a chilling effect. Large companies arenâ€™t going to profit much from rural expansion, so they wonâ€™t do it. Preserving the current rules leaves them dominant, but deters the innovators who are looking to change the world and seek out a little profit wherever it can be found.
When ATTâ€™s Bell telephone monopoly was broken up in the 1980s, many people feared the disruption the breakup would cause. There was indeed disruption: an explosion of new technology and the arrival of cell phones to the mass market. Ending â€śnet neutralityâ€ť should deliver this type of disruption. The type that delivers choice and value to consumers.
If the fears being fanned by the industry giants of today come true, Congress has the responsibility to address them, not unelected bureaucrats. As an example, my colleague on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, has already been working on such a bill.
The FCC has pointed out that the end of â€śnet neutralityâ€ť leaves the Federal Trade Commission the power to break up any company with a monopolistic hold on the industry, as it did with Ma Bell.
Far from â€śthe end of the Internet as we know it,â€ť the demise of â€śnet neutrality,â€ť the return to the light touch of government, and the freedom to innovate have the potential to take the Internet to heights not yet imagined by you or me. But in a garage or a basement somewhere in the United States, young minds are at work who have already imagined the future, and now they have the freedom to make it so.
Feel free to contact my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at ###