Finally, both states and the federal government are coming to understand that government regulation was the biggest factor holding back the broadband rollout, and they are beginning to get out of the way.
Over the past 18 months, numerous states, including Texas, Indiana and Virginia, have passed sweeping reform of their telecommunications laws by reducing artificial barriers to competition, removing price caps and price controls, removing “build-out” requirements and other barriers to entry in new markets.
And, in Washington D.C., reform bills are moving through the House and Senate seeking to do the same thing at the federal level, which would remove the need for the remaining states to pass their own reform efforts.
The result of these efforts should be better service and lower prices to consumers. In fact, already in Texas and Indiana the evidence is clear that prices for video services are falling in areas where there is new competition between telecom and cable companies for the same customers.
But, unfortunately, the forces of regulation and government management of the telecom industry have come roaring back with an initiative called "network neutrality." Supporters of this idea are demanding that the federal government dictate to network operators what content they are allowed to offer—even managing the technical details of how switching occurs on their private networks.
Let us repeat: These are private networks, built by private companies for the benefit of their potential consumers. If government is allowed to start dictating regulations and micromanaging how these private networks are run, it’s back to the bad old days of "common carrier" regulation.
In other words, we’d be applying the same flawed and tired regulatory logic to the new broadband networks that we’ve just removed from telephone communications.
This is no time for backsliding into government micromanagement of the communications industry. There is too much to gain, for our economy and for American consumers, and too much to lose if government gets in the way of the broadband rollout.
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