Your Take: Here’s what’s behind Big Telecom’s PR push for Internet “innovation,” says Rashad Robinson.
by Rashad Robinson (Special to The Root) — It seems the telecom industry is nervous that its days of simply informing the government how it prefers to conduct its own affairs may finally be numbered. With current Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski reported to be stepping down, and buzz building around a potential nominee likely to serve as a much more rigorous public advocate, Big Telecom is ramping up its PR machine to warn us of the danger of informed, effective government oversight. ColorOfChange members have seen this all before, when we organized to stop the FCC from rubber-stamping what would have been a disastrous merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. Here’s what the telecoms don’t want you to know: The FCC’s landmark “open Internet rules” ensure that fixed broadband providers — the AT&Ts, Comcasts and Verizons that run DSL, cable or fiber into your home or office — can’t censor your access to the Web. Specifically, fixed broadband providers can’t block sites they’d rather you not visit, and they can’t favor one Web user’s network traffic over another (for example, by slowing a site’s load time). These open Internet rules represent a critical win for consumers, who for the most part have no real choice when it comes to selecting a broadband provider — and thus no choice about the quality of broadband service we receive. Every monthly cable bill is a fresh reminder of how a lack of competition keeps us tied to underperforming, unresponsive telecom monopolies primarily dedicated to price-gouging their customers. Without the FCC serving as a watchdog — protecting our right to all access the same Web, no matter what telecom market we live in — broadband providers would be working overtime finding new ways to charge us even more for even less.