The internet is a powerful tool that empowers people and businesses alike with knowledge, ease of communication, and global reach at unprecedented speed. While currently an open domain, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been working hard to implement Net Neutrality regulations that grant the federal government oversight regarding the development and implementation of certain technologies critical to internet access.
At first glance, the regulations seem noble, but in reality, they propose significant restrictions that would jeopardize the fundamental nature of the internet as a free and accessible space, among other things.
The troubles start with the FCC’s aim to reclassify broadband from a Title I-Information Service to a Title II-Telecommunications Service. While this sounds obscure, the impact is significant and far-reaching, particularly for closing the digital divide and empowering the digital economy.
One specific provision, Section 214, would put companies seeking to provide domestic and international telecommunications services through a burdensome and intimidating application process.
It’s important to recognize that broadband was previously classified as a Title II- Communications Service, until the passage of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order in 2018. The first year after being enacted, we saw a record 6 million homes connected to fiber networks.
Since then, the amount of Americans with access to two or more high speed internet connections, for example at work and at home, increased by 30%. Additionally, Americans have enjoyed a 73% decrease in the prices they pay.
Consider that the Biden administration highly promoted efforts to advance its broadband accessibility agenda. Turning broadband’s governance to the FCC would introduce obstacles contradicting this very mission of providing affordable, reliable, high-speed internet for all Americans.
A Phoenix Center Economic Study highlights the repercussions of previous attempts at Title II regulatory approaches, citing “reduced investment by $8.1 billion annually” and “reduced total employment by about 195,600 jobs in a variety of industries.” The European Union’s overregulation of broadband yielded a similar impact and sheds light on the likely consequences, with stringent practices impacting connectivity and ultimately throwing a wrench in digital economic activity.
Imposing ill-conceived regulations on broadband providers discourages investment and delays the implementation of crucial infrastructure, amplifying the internet accessibility gap for middle America precisely when global competitiveness is at stake.
When pondering the impact of such regulation, one must think beyond the ability to stream music or movies. In the digital era, where technology is driving services like telehealth, education and e-commerce, the impact is far-reaching. Introducing obstacles to these networks will impede broadband operation, scalability, innovation and investment, ultimately hurting other businesses. This is especially true for Hispanic owned businesses, 36% of which make most (or all) of our revenue online. The government inserting roadblocks would hinder our ability to compete – and we aren’t alone.
The US Hispanic Business Council is sounding a wake-up call to our government that they should prioritize more pressing issues, especially when the pitfalls of this ill-fated pursuit are evident. The reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service seems to be a solution in search of a problem; One that will significantly hinder small businesses and innovation, putting America at a disadvantage in the global race for technological superiority.
Javier Palomarez is president & CEO of the The United States Hispanic Business Council (USHBC). Palomarez is a leading voice in the areas of multi-cultural consumerism, marketing, small business, entrepreneurship, and the Hispanic electorate. He is an acclaimed spokesperson for small business and entrepreneurship, as well as a nationally recognized leader in the Hispanic community, being recognized as one of America’s most influential Hispanics for over a decade. The United States Hispanic Business Council (USHBC) is a voice for the Hispanic business community. A 501(c)6 non-profit organization, the USHBC focuses on improving access to contracting in the public and private sector, fair representation of Hispanics in business, media, and politics and ensuring Hispanics have a voice in the national dialogue. The USHBC is a bipartisan organization.
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