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InfoTech & Telecom

 

The Issue

Three decades of U.S. telecom policy were reversed on February 26, 2015, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), by a 3–2 vote, reclassified broadband telecommunications as a public utility. If the decision survives the current court challenge, the FCC will have unprecedented power to regulate consumer and wholesale broadband pricing, quality of service, and service bundling.

Although the FCC assures it will “forbear” the full scope of regulatory powers it now has under Title II, it has assumed the authority to regulate content and applications, impose additional taxes and fees on services, and use its discretion to respond to any situation or practice where it believes competition, investment, free access, or the utility of the Internet is endangered.

Until now, the prevailing policy toward telecommunications and the Internet supported deregulation of voice services, light regulation of ISPs, and almost no regulation of Internet content and applications. Under this policy, Internet use has grown explosively; a 2014 report estimated 87 percent of U.S. adults regularly use the Internet, up from 79 percent in 2010 and 66 percent in 2005.

There are serious doubts this can continue in the regulated environment the FCC has imposed in recent years. Congress, as well as state and local governments, can resist this regulatory agenda by pursuing proven policies that have worked for years because they stimulate market forces and private industry initiative and respond to real customer needs and wants. The alternative is an Internet that runs at the government’s pace, where every innovation must be examined, evaluated, and approved by government bureaucrats before reaching the public.

Our Stance

Issues such as network neutrality, excessive telecom taxes, and municipal broadband have been matters of controversy for more than a decade. In recent years, widespread adoption of broadband and the general disruption of the digital economy have raised new policy issues. Governments at all levels are now debating privacy, Internet hate speech, and “sharing economy” services such as Uber and Airbnb, which offer tremendous convenience to consumers yet threaten established local businesses.

Featured Subtopics

City at night with streaks of light
The Internet has thrived due to its open and market-based nature. Imposing a vast new array of government regulations under Title II, like net neutrality, would stifle what has made the Internet one of the biggest growth sectors of the economy. To ensure the growth of our nation’s broadband infrastructure and the growth of the internet economy, any changes to how the internet and broadband is regulated needs to look away from outdated regulatory models and instead focus on policies which do not hinder innovation and growth.
Keyboard with the word privacy on it
Broadband development across the United States has been robust, creating wide internet availability at affordable prices. The market based system does not need reform; government control of the spectrum would undermine what has been a very successful system.
Man holding tablet with wi-fi symbol
Broadband development across the United States has been robust, creating wide internet availability at affordable prices. The market based system does not need reform; government control of the spectrum would undermine what has been a very successful system.

Additional Subtopics

  • Antitrust
  • Broadband
  • Cable
  • Censorship
  • Cloud Computing
  • Copyright
  • Encryption
  • Internet
  • Municipal Overbuild
  • Regulation
  • Security
  • Streaming
  • Taxes
  • Universal Service
  • VOIP
  • Wireless

Videos

Title: China Erupts, Elites Side with Regime - In The Tank Podcast #374
Description: The Heartland Institute's Donald Kendal, Jim Lakely, Justin Haskins, and Chris Talgo present episode 374 of the In The Tank Podcast. The ITT crew starts off talking about a new analysis from the Socialism Research Center showing how 90% of candidates endorsed by various socialists groups won election in the 2022 midterms. Then they discuss on the ongoing protests that are boiling over in China due, in large part, to the country's strict zero-COVID policies. Also, why is Apple threatening Twitter while seemingly providing cover the Chinese Communist Party? SHOW NOTES: OPENING CHIT CHAT Socialism Watch: 2022 Midterms https://www.heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/an-analysis-of-socialist-candidates-in-the-2022-midterm-election MAIN TOPIC – CHINA PROTESTS WHILE ELITES PROVIDE COVER BBC - China plans 'crackdown' after Covid protests https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-63796135 WSJ - China’s Failed Covid Vaccine Nationalism https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-failed-vaccine-nationalism-sinovac-sinopharm-zero-covid-pfizer-moderna-xi-jinping-11669759952 NYT - ‘Breach of the Big Silence’: Protests Stretch China’s Censorship to Its Limits https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/30/business/china-protests-censorship-video.html NYT - China’s Dramatic Dissent https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/30/briefing/china-protests-covid.html The Hill - Biden treads lightly in response to COVID protests in China https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/3755371-biden-treads-lightly-in-response-to-covid-protests-in-china/ CNBC - Apple limited a crucial AirDrop function in China just weeks before protests https://www.cnbc.com/2022/11/30/apple-limited-a-crucial-airdrop-function-in-china-just-weeks-before-protests.html APPLE HELPS THE CCP, MEANWHILE … CNBC - Elon Musk claims Apple has threatened to remove the Twitter app https://www.cnbc.com/2022/11/28/elon-musk-claims-apple-has-threatened-to-remove-the-twitter-app-.html Michael Tracey – Twitter Policy in 2015 https://twitter.com/mtracey/status/1597392181341589504

Infotech & Telecom Experts Team

The Heartland Institute's experts on information technology and telecommunications issues are available for legislative testimony, speaking engagements, and media interviews.

Staff & Fellows Policy Experts

Steven Titch
Independent Policy Analyst
Steven Titch is a policy analyst focusing on telecommunications, Internet and information technology. He is also a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.