The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, Director of Media Freedom.org:
Alexandria, VA, November 16, 2010 – Today, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps will be in New Mexico, pleading with residents for power to regulate the Internet. He won’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what he aims to do. In his view, the Internet is in dire jeopardy of failing Americans due to “corporate greed.” How he wants to “fix” it is through telephone-styled Net Neutrality regulations – 75-year-old rules that did anything but promote growth and innovation.
Thankfully, the facts belie his contentions.
Almost 95% of America has some form of Internet access. Options grow daily, such as DSL, cable, fiber, wireless 3G and 4G, satellite and, in some places, broadband over powerline. All of this has resulted in nearly 65% of American households having broadband, and over 30% of America with Internet-enabled smartphones. Growth continues unabated, checked mainly by end-user dynamics instead of being limited by the lack of Internet access, applications, content and/or device options.
You know what the main driver of this growth is? The Internet isn’t regulated. Or, stated differently, we have Net Neutrality now, policed outside the auspices of government regulatory bodies.
Sure, the market is imperfect. Important work remains to connect those Americans who truly cannot get onto the Internet. In New Mexico, Internet penetration is about 10% lower than the national average (the state being roughly on par with Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas). That noted, Media Freedom believes that New Mexicans are better served by letting the present dynamic play out. This means allowing the advance of technology, consumer education tools, industry best practices, marketplace guidance and minimal consumer-oriented backstops to continue to propel the Internet to new growth and innovation.
Where government can play a role is here:
- It must abstain from regulating the Internet either directly or indirectly.
- Where problems legitimately persist – such as in the rural areas of New Mexico, as well as in communities with lower Internet uptake due to socioeconomic, race, culture, age and other factors – government can effectively work at the margin to boost demand by helping with affordability, training and other incentives to get people connected and online.
- It can identify and then rollout more wireless spectrum, which can boost Internet accessibility and promote more competition among Internet providers.
- It can help mitigate local policies, which prevent tower citing and infrastructure rollout, thereby improving access to broadband facilities.
- And, state entities can reduce high taxation of communications facilities and services that frustrate uptake, making such services less affordable for consumers.
New Mexicans’ productivity, global competitiveness and general welfare are intimately connected to the Internet. Though Commissioner Copps wants New Mexicans to believe the medium needs “fixing” by his agency, the marketplace has adequate checks and balances to ensure that it grows, and flexibly at that, without Washington’s “helping hand.”