As we gear up to defend and protect the net neutrality rules, parties on both sides are speaking up. One particular group, small Internet Service Providers, claim that the Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order has been a death sentence for them, hindering their ability to invest and compete in the market. These small ISPs have taken to advocating against net neutrality rules but there is something missing from their claims: substance.
As congressional leaders battle over the looming sequester,
the need and expense of basic social service programs has been subject of
national debate. On Capitol Hill, the costs and benefits of such services are
described in terms of dollars and cents. The Universal Service
Fund (USF) is no exception from scrutiny and it is the position of Public
Knowledge that cuts to our communications service safety net, is a mistake that
would harm millions of Americans.
One of the hardest things about growing up is learning how to face hard problems. The easy impulse is always to try and ignore a hard problem and hope that it goes away. The flaw in this strategy is that it almost never works. In fact, it usually only makes the problem worse. Oftentimes, it makes the problem worse in ways that you never could have expected. Eventually there is a moment where you realize that the only way to solve the problem is to face it head on, even if that means making some hard decisions. That is the moment you grow up a little bit.
The problem of reforming the Universal Service Fund (USF) without Congressional direction means working without clear guidance on what the FCC should, institutionally, hope to achieve. “Broadband!” Is the usual answer from reform proponents. “Basic broadband for everyone! And eliminate waste. And spur investment. And promote innovation. And create jobs. And education. And –“ Well, you get the idea.
After all the shouting has died down, after the House elects its Republican leaders and after the Senate sorts itself out, the reality is that policy in the telecom sector will likely remain where it has been for the past two years – in state of suspended animation. That’s a shame, because the people who can most benefit by some reasonable and commonsense changes may not have the opportunity to do so.