Continuing to posture about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of using a 1934 law to support net neutrality is a waste of precious time and resources our country can ill afford.
Now is the time to get serious about giving all Americans lasting protections to unfettered access to an open internet that policymakers know they deserve. A political battle has turned a legitimate policy discussion about the best regulatory framework for an Open Internet into a fight over ever-more tangential side-issues.
While some have taken issue with how the current Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has sought to bring the discussion back from hyperbole, no one can fault his ultimate objective, which is to bring back policy that promotes further investment and buildout of the internet. Democrats and Republicans alike would benefit tremendously amongst their supporters by taking quick and decisive action to introduce and pass legislation that resolves the issues once and for all.
Continuing to posture about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of using a 1934 law to support net neutrality is a waste of precious time and resources our country can ill afford. Senators, especially those in areas desperate for more private investment in high speed broadband like Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, should be at the forefront of the fight to get legislation passed.
Following the FCC decision in 2015 to use a 1934 law as the basis of net neutrality, rural internet providers around the country sounded off on the ways it would impact their ability to invest in the communities they serve. In December of 2017, these same small providers gave current FCC Chairman Pai examples of how the decision to use Title II has negatively impacted their business and why they value regulatory certainty.
Those who desire a robust digital economy that produces well-paying jobs for all, including communities of color and rural communities, should be fighting for legislative certainty and against policies that scare investment away from digital infrastructure needed to bring more broadband to those who don't have it at rates they can afford.
Congress must take full advantage of the opportunity to bring certainty to the net neutrality debate once and for all. There is a desire for consistency from nearly all corners, including Title II supporters, meaning now is the best time to draft, debate, and pass legislation that codifies net neutrality and gives consumers the protection they deserve, without the job-killing impact that using a 1934 law would have.
Ralph B. Everett, senior industry and innovation fellow at The Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy