Media Access Project, on behalf of Media Action Grassroots Network, et al. (collectively “Media Justice Commenters”), submits these Reply Comments in response to the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet, Broadband Industry Practices.
The record in this proceeding demonstrates the need for open Internet rules to encourage and protect political, economic, and social activities. Importantly, for Media Justice Commenters, open Internet protections are critical for empowering disenfranchised communities and critical in driving the adoption of broadband in these communities. In light of the considerable evidence and data regarding the importance and need for the proposed rules, combined with the Commission’s predictive judgment, it is imperative the Commission swiftly act to adopt open Internet provisions. Considering the recent Comcast v. FCC decision, the Commission must quickly retain its jurisdiction over broadband services so that it can adopt the proposed open Internet rules.
Contrary to the claims of some Commenters, the inability to earn extra revenue and recoup costs by charging for enhanced or prioritized service will not broaden the digital divide. Indeed, data in the record indicate that providers have earned considerable revenue over the last decade, allowing providers to invest in infrastructure. Moreover nondiscrimination rules have not hindered telephone company investment in broadband deployment. The reality is that many providers have dragged their feet when it comes to building out in disenfranchised communities. There is no reason to believe that adopting nondiscrimination rules somehow will prevent the deployment of affordable broadband into disenfranchised communities, especially since providers have already failed to invest in those communities.
Additionally, the market itself can not cure the harms associated with discriminating among services, content, applications, or devices. While some claim the broadband market is competitive, the reality for the constituents of Media Justice Commenters is that wireline and/or wireless broadband access is sporadic or nonexistent. For too many, the alleged existence of competition has not resulted in lower prices and more choices. Moreover, competition in and of itself cannot discourage the temptation to earn additional revenues through discrimination, when switching costs – such as early termination fees and valuable time – remain an obstacle for consumers to simply switch providers. Some have argued the Commission should do nothing. However, doing nothing would ignore the evidence in the record for the need and benefits of open Internet rules. Media Justice Commenters believe it is time now for the Commission to act to protect and empower all Internet users.
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