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The Internet Innovation Alliance is a broad-based coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American, regardless of race, income or geography, has access to the critical tool that is broadband Internet. The IIA seeks to promote public policies that support equal opportunity for universal broadband availability and adoption so that everyone, everywhere can seize the benefits of the Internet - from education to health care, employment to community building, civic engagement and beyond.

The Podium

Monday, April 12

“A Royal Catfight”

By Bruce Mehlman

Speaking of Title II, Johna Till Johnson at Network World looks at what might happen if the FCC makes a move to reclassify:

Reclassifying Internet services as a Title II service would provoke a royal catfight with the carriers, which have preemptively warned the FCC not to go there. Back in February, carriers—- including Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T, Qwest, the National Cable andTelecommunications Association and the wireless and phone company trade associations—warned FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that trying to classify Internet access as a Title II service would provoke “years of litigation and regulatory chaos.” More pointedly, they indicated such a decision would make them unwilling to invest the billions of dollars required to achieve the government’s goal of 100MBps broadband speeds to 100 million households by 2020.

This is a potent threat, because it shines a spotlight on the real elephant in the corner: Everybody wants broadband Internet access, but nobody knows how to pay for it. Internet connectivity simply doesn’t generate enough profit to justify the investment—whether from carriers, Google or anyone else. If the carriers decide to pull their investment dollars—or spend them on litigation instead—good luck having a functioning Internet in 2015.

As Johnson notes, reclassifying broadband would likely make net neutrality a “foregone conclusion.” The questions are: What will the regulations look like, and what will it mean for private investment.

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