Friday, June 11, 2010

Internet Innovation Alliance recommends four pillars for broadband policy

WASHINGTON, USA: In an effort to reduce uncertainty, maximize investment and achieve universal connectivity, the Internet Innovation Alliance announced today the IIA Four Pillars for Broadband Policy. The Pillars are intended to offer a roadmap for advancing the Obama Administration’s worthy goal of broadband access for every American.

In May, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to reclassify broadband Internet access services as telecommunications services subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC announcement prompted a bipartisan majority of Congress to express concern over the proposed drastic regulatory changes.

“What's needed now is thoughtful debate and narrow and considered policy decisions by elected officials in Congress and the Administration that will help provide regulators with clear guidance,” said David Sutphen, IIA co-chair. “With thoughtful bipartisan action, we can advance the mission of delivering high-speed Internet to every American and build world-class broadband networks that make our country a better, more prosperous, and fairer society.”

IIA FOUR PILLARS FOR BROADBAND POLICY:

1. Put Consumers First – Consumers benefit most from market-based competition, where providers compete on cost and innovation to attract and retain their business. While public policies should address transparency, fraud and demonstrated market failures, consumers lose when market-driven innovation and investment take a back seat to political considerations or needless and restrictive regulation.

2. Promote Investment to Maximize Competition – Government cannot and should not finance network build-out and maintenance. Universal connectivity demands aggressive private investment. Policy makers’ primary objective in implementing the National Broadband Plan should be maximizing innovation in multiple platforms and networks, rather than minimizing individual ISPs’ ability to manage and operate privately-owned networks.

3. Minimize Regulatory Interventions to Reduce Investor Uncertainty – Regulatory authority should be narrow in scope and precise in implementation, addressing actual market failures and clear government responsibilities (e.g. spectrum allocations and interference). Excessive regulations chill investment, hinder innovation and consistently fail to anticipate technological development. New technologies should not be shoe-horned into old regulatory regimes for political expediency.

4. Ensure Connectivity to All Communities – Rather than battling over hypothetical disputes between transport and content businesses, policy makers should identify those precise areas where additional authority is needed to expand connectivity to those who remain disconnected. Expanded spectrum access, digital literacy programs and subsidized technology initiatives are proven remedies to digital divides created by demographic, educational and income-based disadvantages.

Bruce Mehlman, IIA Co-Chair, said: “The proposal to impose new and potentially sweeping regulations on broadband services under Title II of the Telecom Act represents a dangerous distraction from the Obama Administration’s mission of universal broadband for all Americans.”

“Such an unexpected sea change to established policy could deter new investment where it is needed most, potentially even exacerbating the persistent digital divide by pricing broadband beyond the reach of many low and moderate-income Americans. Instead of a regulatory blank check with the promise of forbearance, we need focused and narrowly-tailored legislation that empowers the FCC to advance core consensus elements of the national broadband plan, including initiatives to promote telemedicine, universal service reform and distance learning.”

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