Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines to reclassify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as public utilities and to regulate the Internet under outdated Title II regulations. The negative effects of these burdensome regulations are quickly materializing. There are now clear indications that Title II harms broadband investment and innovation, which in turn harms many diverse communities and small businesses across the country.
Our country’s largest ISPs just issued their second quarter S.E.C filings, and these filings made it clear that the FCC’s Open Internet Order has already had a detrimental effect on investment, with some ISPs showing a decline of as much as 29 percent, compared to this time last year.
Typically, these companies spend billions every year to expand and enhance network infrastructure, in order to meet consumer demand, deliver new innovations, and remain competitive. Those billions constitute economic growth, and they create jobs and bring important benefits to consumers and businesses. This decline means that both those who depend on the Internet the most and those who struggle to get access will be negatively affected as broadband providers and tech companies continue to react to heavy regulation.
These falling investment numbers offer a warning about this new regulatory environment, and that’s a warning we cannot afford to ignore. There is much at stake, including economic growth, jobs, and opportunity for minority populations – particularly the Asian American community.
Recent Pew research shows that Asian Americans are enthusiastic users of the Internet and rely on broadband more so than other groups. When it comes to broadband adoption, 97 percent of English-speaking Asian Americans use the Internet compared to 78 percent of blacks, 81 percent of Hispanics, and 85 percent of Whites. Embracing policies like Title II will only lead to the deterioration of a resource that has become indispensable to so many people.
The Internet is an essential tool especially for those who live in remote areas where educational and professional opportunities may not be as widely available as in other parts of the country. Broadband is an important resource for people in rural areas to excel through online education and career development programs. When overbearing regulations threaten access to Internet innovations, those who rely on that access the most also stand to lose the most.
Having the latest broadband technology is also necessary for small businesses to connect with new markets and offer modern customer services. In California, there are over 600,000 Asian Pacific Islander-owned businesses. These businesses generate over $181 billion in annual revenue, employ over 910,135 people, and have an annual payroll of $26 billion. Heavy federal regulations place a huge burden on our tech startups and entrepreneurs. Other businesses throughout the country will also suffer if burdensome regulations continue to make it more difficult to benefit from modern broadband services.
These early signs of trouble caused by Title II regulations should not be taken lightly. It’s not too late to heed those warnings and correct course, thereby securing a future of innovation, possibilities, and continued investment, not only for the benefit of our Asian Pacific Islander communities and businesses but for our overall economy and for all Americans.