Congress needs to listen to our communities’ civic, social leaders on net neutrality

In a letter dated 18 July 2010, a number of civil rights and civic organizations, including 100 Black Men of America, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and the Japanese American Citizens League, wrote the chairmen and ranking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  In the letter, they raised concerns about the Federal Communications Commission’s attempts to establish rules for regulating the network management practices of broadband providers.

The last paragraph of the letter summed up an important argument in the debate over the open network. Net neutrality is anti job growth and anti infrastructure growth. Any economist worth his or her salt will tell you that at the heart of simulative policy for economic growth is a plan to build infrastructure. Broadband providers such as AT&T and Verizon have been intensely deploying broadband facilities for the last five years.

These efforts have not only brought the Internet into homes and schools across the country, they have pumped tens of billions of dollars annually into our national economy. Along with the deployment and spending have come thousands of technical, administrative, and managerial jobs, jobs our country desperately needs.

Should a net neutrality regime be forced on these companies, the new regulatory costs will add expenses and costs that can change business models such that employment may be curtailed. The question is, does the FCC really think it can afford to look like an agency that, on the one hand, touts robust economic development, while on the other hand, it destroys the jobs that exits as a result of broadband providers?

The FCC needs to get its head out of the anti business sands that have been blowing from Capitol Hill and the White House. Broadband providers are in a position to meet an important information services need while hiring labor to do it.

These congressional committees are dubbed “commerce” committees. If they really care about economic growth, they will write legislation once and for all that sends a clear message of hands off of any and all Internet access services.