Just when you think the hypocrisy of the big, legacy telephone companies can’t get any worse, along comes the “The Internet Transformation Panel.” If you believed the panel was providing the public with unbiased opinions, don’t feel bad: it was designed to create that impression. But since this is DC, the truth is a little more complicated. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite. The Internet Transformation Panel was hosted by an organization funded by the phone companies, was stacked with people paid by them and the “discussion” was a scripted reading of the giant phone companies wish list.
Even the name is a lie. The panel wasn’t about the Internet at all. Instead, it was a front for phony phone company arguments designed to eliminate the competitive policies that govern such basic obligations as connecting networks to one another so everyone can talk. This shouldn’t be surprising since the long-term Bell plan has been to avoid the cost of innovation by using government to beat their competitors rather than fighting it out in the marketplace. It’s a shame they would rather invest in lobbyists than new technologies for their customers, but there you have it: the attitude of companies that have monopoly thinking baked deep into their bones.
So where is innovation today coming from? Competitive technology providers. We are the companies that drove the big, legacy telephone companies to deploy DSL and Ethernet, drove down the price for residential broadband, built the first all-IP networks to serve small and medium businesses with cutting-edge technologies, developed products that allow customers to purchase the amount of bandwidth they need for the day, the week or the month – on demand; launched—just recently—the first nationwide 100G services and began providing innovative cloud solutions to the small and medium businesses responsible for generating most of our nation’s new jobs.
There’s a pretty simple lesson in here: competition drives innovation. Thankfully, Congress had the foresight to make sure the 1996 Act and all that came with it is technology neutral. It doesn’t matter whether packets are traveling over copper or over fiber, and it also doesn’t matter if those packets are organized using TDM or IP technology, or some future, yet to be invented protocol. It’s all the same to the 1996 Act and to the wires. The FCC simply needs to continue enforcing technology-neutral policies governing last mile connectivity and interconnection. This, in turn, will enable America’s most innovative technology providers to offer lower prices and the kind of technology breakthroughs that can truly transform business and create new jobs. If the FCC fails to enforce the law, hundreds of thousands of American businesses will lose their service provider and lose the opportunity to be part of the next wave of technology innovation.
Don’t let the big, legacy telephone companies fool you. Their paid consultants may be staging little community theater performances as another venue for trumpeting their tired refrain of “subsidize us and eliminate our competitors,” but that’s all they are: performances. What they want today is the same thing they have always wanted: a world in which the rules just don’t apply to them and competition is a thing of the past. We can’t let them get their way. America’s job-generation engine—the small and medium businesses of the United States—are counting on us to help them reach the future by connecting them to the world with the most advanced technologies available. We can’t let them down.
- TBC Editor