Though millions of Americans hook up to the Internet via wired landlines, wireless broadband subscriptions outpace wired access by more than a 2-to-1 ratio. It’s not hard to see why – using a wireless device like a smartphone or tablet, one can connect to the Internet virtually anywhere in the U.S. Wireless innovation coming down the pike, such as 5G, new spectrum-sharing services and the Internet of Things (IoT), means this ubiquity will not likely abate.
That is, if policymakers don’t slam on the brakes.
Policy and law are conspiring to stop this progress, penalizing development in an area that shows perhaps the greatest hope for getting and keeping all Americans hooked up to, using and benefiting from the Internet.
To counter this, Congress, regulatory agencies like the FCC, and similar policymakers in the states can keep the mobile broadband revolution driving forward by:
- Helping streamline processes that promote the build-out of small cell sites and other related wireless infrastructure in states and localities.
- Eliminating barriers to deployment of broadband infrastructure on Federal lands and assets.
- Getting more spectrum from Federal entities into private use.
- Reducing or eliminating onerous and outdated taxes at the Federal and state / local levels that penalize risk-taking and investment, and keep people from adopting wireless technology.
- Replacing the previous FCC’s Open Internet Order with legislation which, at a minimum, removes utility regulation of ISPs, and limits the agency’s overall reach to regulate the Internet ecosystem.
- Promoting practices in the broadband marketplace – such as reasonable forms of service discrimination – that benefit consumers.
- Focusing consumer protection / enforcement on the presence of real, not imagined, harm.
- Ensuring that the FTC (not FCC) is the primary privacy “cop on the beat.”
- Helping the Universal Service safety net stay focused, efficient, fair and fraud-free.
- And, placing more faith in marketplace choices to guide and shape the contours of U.S. communications policy.
We’re in a golden age of communications. Never before have so many people of all stripes been able to connect to others in such powerful and beneficial ways. The mobile Internet has been an integral partner in this amazing development. If policymakers can push on the gas instead of the brakes, mobile broadband will only get better, bringing more innovation, choice and promise to all Americans.