Federal Communications Commission Chairman Thomas Wheeler was recently successful in helping pass Net Neutrality measures across the United States. Net Neutrality is important. It deregulates the industry from government and private corporation takeover, and gives consumers the freedom to access and choose who they want to pay for their services.
Sure enough, Wheeler’s keynote at Mobile World Congress was all about Net Neutrality and the thinking that went on behind-the-scenes to get the legislation through. Here’s what he had to say:
Net Neutrality in the U.S. is based on four key themes and questions:
- How do you adequately and fairly unleash the power of broadband at its most powerful and transformative time?
- The network of the 21st century is going to be wireless, so how do we ensure we have an adequate spectrum to provide this coverage? (Spectrum refers to the radio portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that wireless internet uses)
- Enabling competition amongst operators and carriers is the best protector the consumer can have, and the best friend an innovator can have
- At the heart of every network is a set of responsibilities operators carry that ensures the nation’s security and public safety
How has this developed over the past year?
Chairman Wheeler acknowledged that the internet is the most powerful platform ever to grace Earth. So how can it exist without a referee?
Well, the referee is Net Neutrality. This referee has one sole responsibility: to ask milestones which affect the advancement of internet growth if the advancement is just or if it is unreasonable. It is not a regulatory structure. The ref throws the flag, and if an event is deemed unreasonable, further action is taken place to assess.
Was Net Neutrality driven by Silicon Valley?
In part. Net Neutrality was designed to make sure that there is sufficient investment into the infrastructure of the internet. Companies like Spring and T-Mobile said they would invest. Small wireless providers in regions agreed they could live with the legislation too. Google Fiber, which has ever been regulated as a TELCO, said that would continue to invest too. We can have an open internet without regulation so that there are revenue opportunities for carriers to build competitive networks.
How will innovation flourish moving forward?
Chairman Wheeler addressed the need for a sufficient spectrum, like he mentioned earlier. A sufficient spectrum is the pathway of the 21st Century as we’re going to become a wireless world. It has to be an open internet, free from interference. And it has to be competitive. We have to make sure we’re creating situations where both network operators and edge providers—pretty much every website and app maker on this very earth—see a similar the competitive advantages.
And if all of this is put together, it’s the magic elixir that drives innovation.