Right wing organization Americans For Tax Reform is no doubt delighted to report on a recent editorial in Tulsa World penned by Oklahoma Democrat Governor Brad Henry. The editorial, "FCC broadband plan sets us on the wrong path," talks about why the FCC’s "third way" to net neutrality is not a good idea. Reading through the editorial, you can hear familiar catch phrases proponents use when discussing net neutrality, like new regulations having a "chilling effect," causing job losses, a decline in investment by broadband providers in rural areas, and more.
It’s interesting because nothing has stopped broadband providers from expanding into rural areas in the last ten years; what has hindered such progress is purely financial; subscribers spread out over miles and miles are not necessarily worth serving. Cable’s reluctance to invest is why satellite companies like Dish Network and Direct TV have managed to become so prolific in rural areas. Here’s a sample Henry’s editorial:
Bringing broadband to more Americans, especially those in rural and underserved communities, is a good and noble goal. That is why I have long supported the Obama administration’s national broadband plan. To achieve the vision and goals of that plan will require unprecedented levels of private investment. It is estimated that $350 billion in new private investment will be necessary to fully implement the broadband plan.
However, the path the FCC proposes — reclassifying broadband under an arcane section of the Federal Communications Act of 1934 — will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the lofty goal of universal broadband access across the U.S. If the FCC continues on its present course, there is a real threat to rural communities and populations which are underserved by broadband access today.
The chilling effect such a move will have on private investment and job creation is real and is already being felt from Wall Street to Main Street, as Washington moves ever closer to more onerous regulation of the Internet. We cannot afford to stifle private investment, job creation and economic recovery, especially now.