Some States Want to See a National Patchwork of “Net Neutrality” Regulations. That’s a Bad Idea.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sent a pro-innovation message to the country last year by acting to move beyond old, so-called “net neutrality” regulations from the Obama era that would have regulated today’s internet with last century’s rules. As the current FCC continues to advance market-based, pro-competition measures to encourage investment in next-generation broadband networks, some state legislatures around the country are threatening to reverse this progress by passing state-level laws that look a lot like yesterday’s old regulations.

So-called “net neutrality” measures have been introduced in a majority of states. Some have passed, and others are poised to be enacted. California is voting this week on its own legislation.

A state-by-state patchwork of laws would bring all the same problems as the old FCC rules, only worse. It would mean increased regulatory uncertainty and create a framework at odds with the nature of the internet, which is not confined to state lines.

Republicans and Democrats agree that a state-by-state approach is a bad idea. Both the Obama-era FCC and today’s current FCC think that broadband policy should be set at the national level and should not vary by state. The 2015 Open Internet Order reaffirmed the FCC’s “longstanding conclusion that broadband internet access service is jurisdictionally interstate for regulatory purposes.” And the current FCC in the Restoring Internet Freedom proceedings concluded “regulation of broadband internet access service should be governed principally by a uniform set of federal regulations, rather than by a patchwork that includes separate state and local requirements.”

The NAM has long called on Congress to pass a sensible legislative solution that makes the internet permanently open, encourages broadband investment and ends regulatory uncertainty. Ongoing internet power grabs by the states underscore the need for Congress to act.

Today’s manufacturing shop floors are highly connected and technologically advanced. Manufacturers are pioneers of the Internet of Things, innovating in ways that transform their processes, improve their products and allow them to compete globally. This new era in manufacturing relies on a robust and reliable telecommunications infrastructure. Continued progress in manufacturing innovation demands continued investment in these networks, and we need federal policies that promote such investment.

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