Business Forward Report on Net Neutrality Cites High Cost of Inaction

January 30, 2019

CONTACT:
Nat Wood
nwood@businessfwd.org
410-507-7898

Business Forward Report on Net Neutrality Cites High Cost of Inaction

Washington, DC – Business Forward today issued a report, The High Cost of Doing Nothing on Net Neutrality, calling on Congress to take action on net neutrality and avoid the high costs of delay and uncertainty.

Business Forward has organized hundreds of briefings across the country on technology and innovation, collecting recommendations from local business leaders on a range
of issues, from how to protect IP to helping small businesses use the internet to find new markets. Few issues are as important – or contentious – as net neutrality.

Business Forward’s new report, The High Cost of Doing Nothing on Net Neutrality, argues that the core principle of net neutrality – that broadband service providers treat all traffic equally – would be best achieved through Congressional action. For more than 15 years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has failed to establish and maintain enforceable net neutrality rights, despite broad public support. Proposals under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were rejected by courts because the FCC lacked appropriate authority from Congress, and a second Obama-era proposal was reversed under the Trump administration, leading to a climate of uncertainty that stifles innovation and investment, which hurts the U.S.’s long-term competitiveness.

The report’s key findings include:
• Broadband infrastructure is vitally important to local economic opportunity and America’s global economic competitiveness. One study found that gaining access to broadband correlates with a $2,100 per year boost to household income.
• Building our broadband infrastructure requires massive investment (approximately $75 billion per year) from a small number of companies.
• Sound broadband policy balances the interests of the companies that build the network and the companies that use it. The best way to ensure an open and vital internet is to prevent network operators from interfering with traffic to favor data from some sites or applications over others. With net neutrality, companies operating at the “edge” of the network would be more likely to invest in distance learning, telemedicine, media streaming, and other new, data-intensive businesses.
• Four different FCC chairs, serving two presidents (George W. Bush and Barack Obama), supported net neutrality principles, policies or rules – but they failed to find a lasting solution without clear statutory authority from Congress.
• Under President Obama, the FCC’s net neutrality rules in 2010 enjoyed broad support, but were struck down in courts for lack of clear statutory authority. In 2015, the FCC’s application of Title II utility rules to broadband was viewed as a workaround to make up for a lack of statutory authority from Congress. Under President Donald Trump, the FCC reversed the Obama FCC’s Title II designation, eliminating net neutrality provisions in the process.
• Without clear authority from Congress, future net neutrality proposals will remain vulnerable to litigation and a victim of political gridlock at the FCC.
• The resulting uncertainty represents an ongoing headwind against innovation and investment in the digital economy, and therefore a threat to long-term economic competitiveness.

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