Thursday, May 8, 2014

Open Letter to the FCC

Dear FCC,

I am a technology professional who has focused on Internet related technology since the 1990's. I was a lead engineer involved with two telecommunication providers when broadband (DSL) was rolled out in my area, and was a key person involved in its deployment and implementation. The Internet has always been the vehicle which provides the food and livelihood my family requires.

The current proposal for Net Neutrality is a continuing example of the disrespect the FCC has for the People of the United States and the visionaries that have made the Internet what it is today. In the early days of the Internet it was not the lack of regulation or its mis-classification that led to its success and growth, but the existence of proper competition. During this time there were more than a dozen ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in my area providing dial-up services which drove down the prices allowing Internet access to become mainstream. As the modem market dried up and broadband services took over, larger companies used predatory practices to eliminate competition in this market. Without regulation smaller companies, who depended on government sponsored monopolies and duopolies to reach customers, saw their traffic degraded even while these larger companies reached out to their customers to provide competing services and steal them away. This environment has lead to soaring prices, bandwidth caps and questionable peering agreements. Today my area only has two viable ISPs (Comcast and AT&T) leaving consumers with no choices, and these companies are more than aware of this fact as they disconnecting users over simple billing disputes, block or degrade services or interfere with transfer between the few other providers available.

If Net Neutrality is not taken seriously and properly imposed we will never again see the growth and innovation the Internet has delivered thus far. As much as I would prefer competition in the market over regulation, the environment and landscape is already too damaged for competition to exist. Cities sign contracts to restrict even themselves from providing competing services, and these monopolistic companies control all the lines leading to the consumers' door. In addition, these ISPs also provide competing services like Voice, Video/TV, etc. and, some might say, have an obligation to their share holders to interfere with others to encourage their own growth in the market.

No matter how you try to convince yourself otherwise, ISPs are Common Carriers. Today the Internet is a Utility just like Power and Water, and consumers are suffering by your inability to properly label and regulate this new Utility. Future businesses are already failing and struggling in an uncertain market where they find themselves unable to compete or defend themselves against those who would rather put them out of business. This situation will only get worse once the FCC gives up and stops trying to enforce a free and open Internet.

Please show reason. Save the Internet. Classify ISPs as Common Carriers and promote competition by regulating the resale (and non-interference) of Internet Services directly to consumers.

Thank you.