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Stephanie Hall

Old Ideas on So-Called “Net Neutrality” Resurface in the New Congress

By | Culture and Entertainment, Economy, Regulations, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology | No Comments

Senator Ed Markey and Representative Mike Doyle recently introduced the Save the Internet Act in the Senate and House (S. 682 and H.R. 1644 respectively). The bills resurrect some old ideas on regulating the internet in the name of so-called “net neutrality”. Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled “Legislating to Safeguard the Free and Open Internet” where they considered this legislation.

Manufacturers agree that Congress, rather than the Federal Communications Commission, should act to establish a predictable legislative framework for a free and open internet, but the bill the committee considered today is not the way to do so. The Save the Internet Act would repeal the FCC’s most recent action that replaced heavy-handed, Obama-era regulations with sensible regulations designed for the internet of today. And, rather than provide new ideas to bring our nation’s communications law into the 21st century, the bills would then reinstate those earlier overly-burdensome regulations classifying the internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Title II regulations are not the correct way to achieve an open internet. They ignore the competitive landscape of the marketplace and, based on a law enacted before color television much less the internet, fail to account for the internet as it exists today. They would have the unintended effect of harming consumers and industry by injecting further regulatory uncertainty into the shifting federal approach to broadband, potentially stymying private sector capital investments. The FCC’s most recent actions only went into effect last summer, and the sensationalized predictions that they would signal the end to an open internet were not accurate.

Manufacturers depend on a reliable telecommunications infrastructure to connect and enable manufacturing technologies. While the legislation the House committee considered today would unquestionably be a step backwards, the National Association of Manufacturers encourages Congress to consider forward-thinking legislative solutions for our nation’s broadband future—solutions that apply fairly across the internet ecosystem and provide the certainty necessary for our industry’s continued innovation.

Next Generation Broadband: Making Regulations Work for Innovation

By | Infrastructure, Innovation, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Later this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal to modernize existing regulations to speed the deployment of next generation wireless across the country. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr recently unveiled a plan to support the buildout of 5G, noting the need “to update our rules to match this revolutionary new technology.” Manufacturers agree and support Commissioner Carr’s proposal, along with a similar effort in the Senate with Chairman John Thune’s (R-SD) STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act (S. 3157).

Existing regulations for broadband infrastructure were designed for the technology of previous generations of wireless, which required siting decisions for 200-foot towers that would transmit signals over large swaths of land. Next generation broadband will be delivered through multiple “small cells”—devices that are much less intrusive and more much more numerous. The FCC’s plan would cut through a complex web of hurdles at the local level that could delay 5G buildout. It would ensure cities and towns charge reasonable fees, and it would shorten the shot clock for local regulators to act on build-out requests, while maintaining a role for local control over aspects of small cell placement decisions.

Next generation wireless broadband will unlock further innovation across the manufacturing ecosystem. The Internet of Things has transformed the way manufacturers do business, and today’s shop floors are quickly developing and deploying emerging technologies. Manufacturing operations are more data intensive than ever before. Improved processing speeds and increased wireless capacity with 5G will lead to advancements in data-heavy tasks, like those associated with connected devices and Artificial Intelligence.

The private sector is already investing in broadband infrastructure and the innovations that will be powered by 5G technology. Federal policymakers can help by ensuring the regulatory framework keeps pace with the evolving nature of mobile technology. We applaud Commissioner Carr and the Senate’s STREAMLINE Act sponsors for advancing proposals to clear the way for next generation broadband innovation.

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