In a recent opinion piece (“FCC must restore Internet neutrality” – Viewpoints, Jan. 16), the author relies on incomplete information to reach a conclusion that should concern everyone with a stake in the continued success of California’s innovation economy.
The U.S. broadband market is one of the most dynamically competitive markets in the world. It is hardly broken, and comparing the United States to that of a finite geographical area – such as Stockholm – paints an immensely inaccurate picture.
As of 2011, 94 percent of Americans had a choice of providers offering 3 megabits per second or more. Since then, Google has helped launch a fiber ground war; private communications infrastructure investment in the United States topped $50 billion per year. According to one recent report, in 2013 the United States ranked eighth globally in average connection speed. That’s ahead of Sweden.
I’m frankly surprised the author ignored mobile broadband entirely, as if it doesn’t exist. Yet, mobile connection speeds in the United States are now 75 percent faster than the European Union average. Cisco forecasts that average mobile connection speeds in the United States will continue to rise, far outpacing Western Europe. We’re on the right track.
What’s really alarming is the author’s suggestion that the nation’s long-standing Internet policy should be scrapped. At issue: a recent federal court of appeals decision overturning the Federal Communication Commission’s 2010 net neutrality rule.
In its decision, the court stated that the FCC overstepped its boundaries by attempting to regulate the Internet. Doomsayers now claim that the Internet will suffer because there is no regulation in place to “protect” it, notwithstanding that the Internet had been doing just fine before 2010.
There’s no need to panic. It’s clear the reasonable middle will prevail and find a sensible, market-driven policy solution. And there’s no evidence of actual threats to Internet openness on the horizon.
Finally, the author’s suggestion that the appeals court ruling should cause the FCC to try to regulate the Internet under rules that date back to 1934 would be a huge mistake, not only for continued investment in broadband infrastructure, but to the very innovation economy that has been thriving in California.
The Internet is an evolving and phenomenally successful engine of innovation and economic growth in California and the nation. It remains so precisely because our government has wisely taken a careful approach to its regulation. California’s success is evidence that this approach works.
Mike Montgomery is executive director of CALinnovates, a nonprofit coalition advocating for the state’s technology community and consumers.