Our economy and future prosperity depend on broadband. Consumer protection regulation can help ensure that all Americans are well informed about broadband prices, service options and privacy. Yet not all regulations are wise. With universal access to broadband a top national priority, the threat of unnecessary regulation hangs over the industry and, with it, the possibility of a slowdown in broadband delivery to those who need this technology the most.
With the advances made in handheld devices and the general affordability of service, wireless broadband has had a tremendous impact in minority communities. Although we account for only 34 percent of the nation's population, we constitute over 40 percent of the wireless market.
According to a Pew Center study conducted in Spring 2012, over half of African-Americans do most of their online browsing through a mobile device, compared to a quarter of whites. As a direct result, African Americans stand to lose the most from a bump in the digital highway that would likely impact opportunities in education, healthcare, civic engagement and - above all - jobs.
In addition, many "command and control" regulations under consideration in Washington are pointless when applied to our highly competitive wireless market. Over-regulation would likely further hinder the goal of universal broadband access, impose increased costs on consumers, result in significant job losses and significantly discourage investment among network operators.
Members of the Federal Communication Commission have done a tremendous job in allowing the market to succeed on its own – with little or light-touch regulation – and it would be in America's best interest to continue in that direction.
Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai recently called on the commission to set up a task force that should recommend the repeal of "old-world regulations that no longer make sense in a competitive, all-IP world" and discourage investment in new technologies.
"We should make clear that we have no intention of employing such a back-to-the-future regulatory approach," said Commissioner Pai.
Pai also appeared to show support for re-examining the 1996 Telecommunications Act that he refers to as "hopelessly outdated."
Commissioner Pai is correct in stating that many of the legacy regulations currently in place are outdated, but creating a thick layer of new regulations in their place is not the answer. Competition and the marketplace should drive the deployment of a range of broadband technologies and services to consumers, and the government should not pick technology winners and losers.