Senator Scott,

I received your response in regards to my email on Net Neutrality. As an ISP customer, former network tester, and South Carolina voter, I could not disagree with you more. Fundamentally this an issue of trust, or frankly, lack thereof. Based on their history, I do not trust the ISPs. I do not trust the self-serving and monopolistic “free market” they claim to champion. I am very much anti-trust, and based on their history, my mistrust is very well-earned.

ISPs already have a terrible record. Fortune magazine and the non-partisan Consumer Reports found customer satisfaction poor, and getting worse. Yet, the ISPs fought vigorously for more lax FCC rules governing them. The FTC is not technically savvy, not proactive, barely reactive, and ill-equiped to handle IT oversight of any kind.

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ISPs are now vertically integrated, which means carriers now own content. Therefore, they now have motive they didn’t have before 2015 to cap or throttle competitor content affecting their bottom line. As Google has noted, small startups (as Google once was) barely on the radar can easily be drowned out.

As a former network tester, I’m well aware the Internet is not plumbing or sewage, as the FCC chair noted, tongue-in-cheek. Voice-over-IP traffic, streaming video, email and web page data are very different (aka, Quality of Service,) and need to be routed and billed appropriately. That is not the point. Technology is not the problem. Management of it is. So, instead of their tired phrases “free market” and “burdensome regulation,” let’s bring back the old telecom ad slogan of the 90s: “Put it in writing.” Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, put it writing you will:

  • Offer 512Mbps download, and 64Mbps upload minimum speeds for both business and residential customers. (Uploading this blog, I had to endure a glacial 230KBps.)
  • Invest in infrastructure, including broadband upgrades. Install new fiber and activate dark fiber.
  • Replace slow T1 and DSL lines and corroded copper connections at the last-mile of service.
  • Connect America, urban and rural, rich and poor. No fast lanes, no slow lanes. Well-paved information highways for all. Period.
  • Offer affordable wireless mesh networks or 5G service. Partner with states, cities and counties to provide good public wireless access.
  • Not concoct fast lanes for sites that they favor, or nickel-and-diming of residences and small businesses that can’t afford it.
  • Not concoct throttling or capping schemes which compete with their interests, politically or financially.

Senator Ted Cruz has made an amusing analogy that Net Neutrality was the “Obamacare of the Internet.” Ironically, I agree. Both provide customer protections against the worst abuses of monopolistic corporations. Citizens realized that, fought vigorously in 2017 to keep ACA protections, and on that front, won. Unfortunately, their voices (80% of them) were ignored by the FCC on actual Internet Freedom.

Information and knowledge are powerful and essential to good commerce and democracy. Let’s restore them to all. It’s time the ISPs Put It In Writing if they want to regain our trust. And if they won’t do it, it’s time for lawmakers like yourself to force them.

Sincerely, Marc S. Kruza

Senator Scott’s original letter

As you may know, on December 14, 2017, under the guidance of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC repealed the Obama Administration’s Open Internet Order of 2015. Under the Obama-era regulations, the FCC was able to apply utility-style regulation to reclassify the Internet as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act. This reclassification allowed the FCC to impose stricter regulations on internet service providers (ISPs).

Under Chairman Ajit Pai’s leadership, the FCC has implemented its plan to restore market-based policies and go back to the light-touch regulatory oversight of the internet. The proposal, referred to as Restoring Internet Freedom, includes specific changes to roll back the current regulations. This includes returning the internet to its original classification as an “information service,” giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to oversee the actions of ISPs, and clarifying that mobile broadband is not a commercial mobile service subject to strict regulations.

ISPs did not block websites before the 2015 Open Internet Order and they will not now. Any ISP would be obligated to publicly disclose this practice and would face severe consumer backlash as well as scrutiny from the FTC, which has the authority to police unfair, deceptive, and anticompetitive practices.

Thus far, the internet has experienced extraordinary growth as a result of freedom from oppressive government regulation. I support maintaining this environment so that it can continue to flourish. The internet was free and open before the Obama Administration’s 2015 Title II regulations and it will continue to be free and open.

I certainly appreciate your input on this issue and the opportunity to respond. Rest assured, I take internet access issues very seriously and would not support something that would restrict access to the internet for South Carolinians.

Again, thank you for sharing your perspective with me; I hope that you will continue to do so in the future. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or a member of my staff.

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