Nicol Turner-Lee, a fellow in Governance Studies and the Center for Technology Innovation, and Evan Swarztrauber, the communications director at TechFreedom, explain the role of the FCC and Congress in protecting consumers and incentivizing internet providers for a digital ecosystem that is both accessible and competitive.
Turner-Lee addresses why universal service, making sure everyone has access to basic services despite their financial situation, is so incredibly important: “We need to encourage programs that break down the cost-prohibitive nature of having access. For some of us, $9.95 or $13.95, it may not be a lot…but to folks who do not have that money, who may have a smart phone that has to be turned off simply because they have to pay their mortgage or their rent over [paying for] their phone. The rippling effect of that is that your child cannot complete their homework, or you can’t apply for benefits, or you can’t even call the utility provider. And so universal service become so much more important in this type of ecosystem.”
Swarztrauber discusses why he believes that bipartisan action in Congress is needed for meaningful, but constrained, laws to protect consumers and businesses alike: “I think he [Rep. Walden, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology] recognizes the folly in having communications policy switch back and forth between administrations. It is absolutely crazy that you can have [FCC] Chairman Wheeler’s work—net neutrality, broadband policy, etc.—just completely undone by an election. And how do we get there? What lasts longer than a regulation is a law and I think…that Republicans are down with the basics of net neutrality, no blocking, no malicious throttling, no malicious discrimination, transparency. These are not controversial ideas.”
With thanks to audio producer Gaston Reboredo and producer Vanessa Sauter, and also thanks for additional support from Kelly Russo, Fred Dews, and Richard Fawal.
Intersections is part of the Brookings Podcast Network.