Unleashing The Next Generation Of Internet Innovation – Forbes

In just a few short decades, the internet has grown from an academic curiosity to the driving economic, cultural and civic force of our time.

Unimaginably fast networks now crisscross the globe and no one even blinks as social media updates roll in from its farthest corners – and beyond (even the International Space Station is online). I’m proud to say that the American Conservative Union’s annual conference—known to conservatives around the globe as CPAC—had a half billion Twitter impressions along with live streaming to every continent.

Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai delivers remarks at The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research May 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. Appointed to the commission by President Barack Obama in 2012, Pai was elevated to the chairmanship of the FCC by U.S. President Donald Trump in January. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

But this torrent of innovation and expansion is under siege right now, thanks to crippling regulations placed upon our networks by the Obama Administration.

These so-called “Title II” utility rules are a hangover from the days of Ma Bell and the Railroad trusts, a regulatory straitjacket designed for the lumbering monopolies of an earlier era, not the nimble competitive dynamos that imagined and built today’s high speed internet in just a few short years. In fact, although these bureaucratic relics lay fallow for decades, no one ever thought to apply them to the internet for most of its existence. Not until the last Administration’s regulatory binge.

Fortunately, times have changed. Newly installed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai vigorously opposed these rules when they were first clumsily clamped onto broadband, and he has made clear he plans to move quickly to unshackle our networks and restore freedom to innovate online. For Americans who depend on the internet, this relief cannot come soon enough.

Experts report that, during the five years while the rules were being considered, the looming threat of utility regulation drove down broadband investment by $35 billion a year. In the two years since they were put in place, broadband investment has dropped another $4 billion. And that trend will only accelerate if something isn’t changed, putting jobs and deployment of faster and even farther reaching connections at risk.

That prediction’s no surprise. In Europe, where utility style rules have been in place for years, per-household investment in broadband is half what we see in the United States. And even liberal groups like the NAACP and the Communications Workers of America warn utility regulations are a threat to economic opportunity and put American jobs at risk.

Innovators and entrepreneurs are even more concerned that micromanaging experimentation and risk taking will short circuit the wellspring of digital progress and invention that consumers and citizens have come to rely on. They warn that burying network development and deployment in the kind of red tape that has strangled other industries will dry up the flood of life-changing breakthroughs like GPS mapping and directions, home digital assistants, and category breaking services like Uber and AirBnB. As Mark Cuban put it, “The Internet can’t innovate living under the rules of a 1970s telephone company.”

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