Below is the UNABRIDGED version of my letter to Trump lackey and Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai (Yesterday, I left a slightly shorter version on the FCC’s website through their “Express Comments” feature).
Dear Chairman Pai:
It’s clear from your public comments on net neutrality that you believe Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will simply do right by consumers if they are freed from their designation as “utilities” under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Well with all due respect, sir, this confidence reminds me a lot of the utter shock Alan Greenspan suffered when he was witness to the 2008 financial crisis. Never in a million years did he think the banks would act with such “irrational exuberance.” … yet they did. He loosened regulations. And they took us for a ride. So OF COURSE the ISPs will take your moves here at the FCC as an invitation to create winners and losers! You are either naïve, or know they will do exactly that and don’t care.
Further, your arguments that the ISPs won’t invest in infrastructure without being freed of their responsibilities as designated utilities under Title II ring hollow. You say they haven’t been investing since being designated into Title II. But the point is moot. If Mr. Trump is to be believed, this will be a great era for infrastructure and they will likely receive huge incentives to grow their networks and streaming power. But even without govt. incentive, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, Cox, you name it — HAVE to invest in infrastructure. First of all, it’s the only way to win in the “content wars.” People don’t want a fuzzy Netflix warm up or a lot of “buffering.” Consumers are already demanding more seamless and lucid content. That means investments in digital infrastructure will happen without your letting the ISPs loose. Second, they have to grow their customer base. They already have work waiting for them in the demand coming from underserved areas like rural and mountain America, and several low-income corridors. They’re not going to leave those new market opportunities barren. They’ll build the infrastructure because it’s what’s next for them to do.
Conversely, I would argue releasing them to the wild to grow their profits off of pay-for-pipe schemes would actually serve as a dis-incentive to invest in their digital and wireless infrastructure. What incentive would they have to grow their market share or influence if they can just raise prices on their existing set of customers?
So, Chairman Pai, while I don’t count on you to convert from your ideological agenda here, I do expect you to respect the fact that many of us are at least educated on the matter, and aren’t just here because we saw a funny bit on TV encouraging us to say something on the FCC Website. I’ll admit to my own self interest here as well. I have my own website (www.ToddFlora.com), and I pay what I consider a fair share to host it…. and I sincerely hope you’ll maintain the Title II designation so that I can grow my readership without having to pay ransom for people to find it.
Thank you for your consideration.