The FCC Must Stay Strong on Open Infrastructure for Both Wired and Wireless Mobile Internet Access

October 22, 2013

As the FCC approaches another leadership transition, CCIA reiterates its commitment to the Obama Administration’s original objectives for enlightened telecommunications policy in the digital age.  As the President took office in January of 2009,  CCIA wrote:  “Never before has there been a national leader who better understood the importance of free speech and the power of the Internet…It is critical to protect the freedom and openness of the Internet.”   We advocated more competition in broadband access markets and ubiquitous affordable open Internet connections for American households and businesses.

Among the broader initiatives already accomplished are:  Stimulus plan grants and loans for building out broadband connections to anchor institutions in unserved locations,  antitrust enforcement and competition policies to prevent further consolidation by any dominant carrier in mobile wireless, and Justice Department support for pro-competitive FCC spectrum aggregation limits.

Renewed priorities at the FCC should include:

  1. Reclaiming FCC authority over broadband Internet access under Title II of the Communications Act.    Internet access is the phone service of the 21st century.   The FCC should never surrender to the powerful companies it is expected to hold accountable to the American people.
  2. Upon the Court’s decision in Verizon v. FCC, enforcing the open Internet rule to the fullest extent possible.  If necessary, crafting a revised rule based on stronger legal underpinnings.  Discriminatory commercial preferences of network providers are not the same as reasonable network management.
  3. Actively promoting competition where competition is possible.  Recognizing bottlenecks, market power and market failure where it exists and dealing effectively with anti-competitive abuses in enterprise broadband rates, terms and conditions, data roaming and interoperability.
  4. Creatively moving more spectrum to availability for mobile broadband via robust auctions and clearing or sharing of federal spectrum, leaving significant frequencies for wifi and other innovative unlicensed use.
  5. Monitoring the complex transition to IP networks very carefully to guard against threats to public safety, full network interconnection and universal broadband connectivity.   Last mile DSL copper networks and cable networks carry IP traffic for the many millions of homes and businesses that lack a fiber connection or LTE wireless service.  The FCC should safeguard the best options consumers and businesses now have, until upgrades arrive.

The federal government shutdown may have delayed everything by a week or two,  but perhaps that merely brings fresh perspective to intensive multidisciplinary work already underway in support of critical 21st century American telecommunications infrastructure.

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