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Net neutrality threatens Internet investment dollars
By Carol Wilson, Telephony

Apr 16, 2008 4:58 PM

Any new government policies regarding the Internet should be focused on advancing broadband deployment in the United States, not trying to impose regulations on Internet service providers, who are investing billions in infrastructure, the head of USTelecom told an audience at the NAB Show this week.

Walter McCormick, president and CEO of the telecom trade association, didn’t specifically mention the push for net neutrality, but clearly had that in mind.

“The big concern that broadband providers and our many allies have is this dangerous notion that because broadband has become so important, it must also be regulated — that it is time for a government-managed Internet,” McCormick said. “We disagree. We are just at the cusp of what broadband can make possible, but we cannot afford to take 25 years to get there. What we need are pro-investment policies so no community left behind.”

Specifically, McCormick endorsed the approach advanced earlier this year by Connected Nation, a public-private partnership group that began as Connect Kentucky. The organization works with existing stakeholders including ISPs, local governments and businesses to identify where broadband isn’t available and encourage private investment to extend broadband to those locations. Connected Nation released a study earlier this year that said that a “modest 7 percent increase in broadband deployment could generate 1.2 million jobs and $134 million in revenue,” McCormick said.

While the U.S. government has funded previous initiatives such as the federal highway system and the space program, it isn’t funding broadband, McCormick pointed out. Private companies are doing that, and they invested $70 billion last year.

Net neutrality puts those private investment dollars at risk and, thus, the continued future of broadband.

“We would save $662 million in health care costs through broadband-enabled advances,” McCormick said. “We could save 6.4 billion vehicle miles with greater telecommuting — that would mean 3.5 billion pounds less in carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.”

McCormick closed by saying he believes the momentum in Washington has turned against net neutrality.

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