The FCC’s new net-neutrality rules may have gone into effect, but it’s foolhardy to assume that they are here to stay. The new rules are being challenged in at least seven lawsuits, and if they are struck down by the courts — as they were twice previously — consumers will wind up without any protection whatsoever. Any future GOP White House could also invalidate them with a stroke of the pen.
Further, according to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and other labor voices, classifying Internet providers as 19th-century Ma Bell utilities could have the undesired effect of driving down needed investment in faster Internet networks, as it has done in Europe.
This is crucial. The CWA’s research shows that Internet providers account for 84 percent of investment in the Internet ecosystem where as “edge providers” (apps and services like Google or Facebook) only account for approximately 14 percent of the investment. Slowing that investment could hurt many communities, including those that we represent.
Legislation is the only permanent guarantee. Critically, legislation also alleviates the investment-depressing effects of the utility classification. Both parties should take Yes for an answer, pass net-neutrality legislation and preserve the investment miracle we have seen in the past two decades.
E. Faye Williams, president and CEO, National Congress of Black Women, Washington, D.C.