FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan Alarms Critics, But It’s Nothing New

by David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times

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Nemo / Pixabay

As AT&T and Verizon prepare to file lawsuits challenging regulation of the Internet as a public utility, here are the three main things the companies don’t want you to know:

  • There’s nothing new about what the Federal Communications Commission is proposing.
  • The exact regulatory approach has been used with wireless.
  • The change didn’t hurt business at all.

In 1993, there were about 16 million cellphone users nationwide. That same year, the FCC started regulating mobile voice service as a public utility, employing what commissioners said would be a “light touch” — the same approach that the agency now is proposing for broadband Internet service.

An inconvenient truth for critics of the FCC’s Internet plan is that there are currently more than 335 million mobile devices in use. And the wireless industry boasts that 97 percent of Americans can choose from at least three service providers.

The regulatory switch, in other words, did nothing to hamper innovation, investment or growth.

“For more than 20 years, wireless phone companies have not only survived but thrived under similar FCC rules for voice communication,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of the California Public Interest Research Group. “The FCC’s new proposal on broadband protects an open Internet for all consumers.”

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