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Save the Internet, Skip Title II

03.02.2017

Americans have always enjoyed an open internet — long before regulators decided they had to "save the internet" by turning it into a utility, USTelecom President & CEO Jonathan Spalter wrote in an op-ed for Axios. Spalter said the open internet policy debate is “not about whether we safeguard an open internet. It's about how we go about doing so.”

The application of “retro” Title II rules to the modern internet “is the policy equivalent of using a sledgehammer to deal with a mosquito on your arm,” Spalter said. “Technically, it may get the job done. But everything breaks in the process.”

What breaks? Investment in ever stronger, faster and more capable broadband networks. As FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has noted, last year saw the first dip in private-sector broadband investment outside of a recession. Unlike other essential national infrastructure, U.S. broadband networks are built on private investment—more than $1.1 trillion and counting over the past 15 years. Abruptly shifting gears to a nearly century-old regulatory regime caused these essential investments to slow at a time when U.S. competitiveness demands they speed ahead.

Consumers may not always love their internet service, Spalter said. “But not once has someone said: I wish my internet company behaved more like the gas company.”

There is a better, cleaner and more straightforward path to the outcome we all want to achieve. If we want to advance the opportunities the internet brings to our economy, nation and consumers — and keep the progress and investment coming—then it's high time we embrace a more constructive path forward.