Dante Ramos is correct in arguing that access to high-speed Internet is essential (“Yes, broadband is a necessity,” Opinion, July 15), but reclassifying Internet providers as 19th-century Ma Bell utilities, as the Federal Communications Commission has done in its new net neutrality rules, is the wrong approach.
Many economists and labor leaders say the FCC’s rules will dramatically discourage Internet providers from making the investments needed to build better and faster networks.
Depressed investment will mean fewer American jobs. Research by the Communications Workers of America shows that unlike “edge” companies such as Facebook and Google, which rely heavily on overseas employees, almost all of the 869,000 annual jobs at network providers are in the United States. In Europe, which employs the same utility approach adopted by the FCC, broadband investment per household is half of ours.
Congress can protect both net neutrality and investment by overruling the FCC and passing new legislation that prevents Internet service providers from slowing down competitors’ traffic or blocking access to websites, while scaling back some of the overreaching utility-style components of the FCC rules.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who strongly support open Internet protections should work with their colleagues to pass bipartisan net neutrality legislation this year.
The writer is the former international vice president of the Service Employees International Union.