BIG Broadband: Public Infrastructure or Private Monopolies
I respect Rob Atkinson and the ITIF but think he got it wrong and has forgotten lessons of the past. He seems to ignore the fact that the FCC, by defining Internet access as an information service rather than a telecommunications service subject to common carrier rules, is what caused America to lose it's initial lead in broadband speeds, affordability, and deployment, even though the Internet was invented here. Before that ruling over two decades ago, consumers could choose from hundreds of competing ISPs, but now they're lucky if they can chose from two. In Austin, it's AT&T or Time Warner, because Verizon, Comcast, and Cox don't even play here, and without competition, there's been little incentive to improve service and costs.
The Internet has become SO CRITICAL to e-commerce, e-government, telehealth, distance learning, telework, and national security that this critical network infrastructure (the "pipes") should not be under control of huge corporations who are legally bound to serve shareholder interests rather than public interests. Short of redefining the meaning of a Corporate Charter, regulating broadband as a common carrier utility seems to be the best way to ensure competition and continued tech innovation.
That's why I support President Obama's call for redefining net neutrality and wrote the FCC to share my views. I asked them to Google "BIG Broadband: Public Infrastructure or Private Monopolies." It's a white paper I wrote as a broadband consultant for policy makers 10 years ago, before serving on the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee and flying to D.C. several times a year on my own dime. The Commission can return to the old "common carrier" definition on its own, without approval of Congress, and that would give them more regulatory oversight to ensure fair competition where none exists today.