Dear Chairmen Rockefeller and Waxman, Ranking Members Hutchison and Barton:
We write in our continued support of your worthy mission of encouraging universal broadband deployment and adoption for all Americans and in response to your calls for input from constituents. In short, we are writing because we at the Internet Innovation Alliance believe broadband is an essential element to our economic and national success in the 21st century.
Like a majority of your compatriots in Congress who have made their concerns publicly known, we are very worried that the so-called “third way” proposal of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) might impose new and potentially sweeping regulations on broadband services under Title II of the 1934 Telecommunications Act. This represents a distraction from an otherwise comprehensive approach to broadband laid out by FCC Chairman Genachowski, and it has the potential to undermine billions in private investment needed to upgrade networks, expand coverage and grow our still-struggling economy. We urge you as leading Members of Congress to encourage regulatory restraint and a more thoughtful and deliberate approach as it pertains to broadband regulation.
It is our shared belief that the proposed new and unexpected regulations —regulating broadband information services as telephone utility services – are far more likely to widen the digital divide than close it. According to the vast majority of market analysts, such an unexpected sea change to established broadband policy would deter new investment where and when it is needed most. Furthermore, unexpected regulation will potentially exacerbate persistent demographic gaps by pricing broadband beyond the reach of many low and moderate-income Americans.
We need carefully-focused and narrowly-tailored legislation that empowers the FCC to advance core consensus elements of the National Broadband Plan, including initiatives to promote digital literacy, universal service reform, and spectrum availability.
We believe that minimal regulation and consistent bipartisanship lead to maximum investment and innovation. Regrettably, the “third way” expanding Title II would maximize regulation. Applying old regulations to new technologies merely because it seems legally viable will not solve current market realities, no matter how well they are implemented or how much the FCC promises to forbear. With great insight, you and the rest of the United States Congress have stepped up in a bipartisan fashion and explained to the FCC that it needs to slow down and approach broadband regulation in a focused and targeted way.
Let us work together to provide targeted and measurable goals for the FCC, removing much of the uncertainty that has been created since the unveiling of the National Broadband Plan. After all, the goal of the National Broadband Plan is to create certainty that leads to universal broadband access, not more regulation that impedes deployment and adoption by unserved and underserved Americans.
Thank you for your careful consideration of our views.