A friend of mine recently injured her knee playing recreational sports. Having recently acquired insurance through one of the state health care exchanges, she found actually using her insurance was far harder than signing up for it. Amid severe leg pain she found herself stuck dealing with understaffed, badly trained health care providers as she tried to navigate the quite cumbersome system. Long lines, long wait times, dropped calls, miss-information and chaos is what she experienced; and whenever someone bothered to show any compassion and explain why it was so difficult to get help the answer was always: “We just don’t have enough resources and funding to deal with the influx of newly insured persons.”
The way she describes her experience sounds like a typical trip through any government run, government funded program. And yet, proponents of a Title II reclassification would risk our online experiences going the way of public utilities, government services, etc.
A recent article cautions against our experiences on the web becoming as miserable as a trip to the DMV.
“Just imagine if ISPs had to stand in line and fill out forms and wait for permission to increase broadband speeds, add Wi-Fi hotspots or create new TV Everywhere services. What would that look like? It would be a net disaster,” the article forewarns.
The greatest threat Title II poses to the Internet is the decrease in investment from the private sector. We owe the rapid growth, expansion and Internet innovation to the private sector. The latest Progressive Policy Institute report notes that Internet service providers are investing more capital into infrastructure improvements than any other industry in America. In 2013, the capital expenditure leader was energy production. This year, ISPs took top billing with a total $46 billion injected into infrastructure and the American economy.
Can we really expect those levels of investment to continue if ISPs are bound to outmoded regulations like those included in Title II of the 1934 Telecommunications Act, which were written more than 50 years before a website had even been invented?
When you need to log on to apply for a job or finish an important term paper, but find your Internet is moving at dial-up speeds, what will a solution look like? Do you want to have to speak with an overworked, underpaid government customer service rep who can only say, “Sorry, we just don’t have enough resources and funding to maintain the broadband speeds you’re used to. Everyone must move at the exact same speed.”
After my friend’s hellish experience with the free, state issued health insurance she qualifies for, she has since decided paying a bit more each month in order to have better insurance coverage through the private sector is well worth it. If you could pay a premium to skip the line at the DMV, wouldn’t you? Of course you would.
It’s the same with the Internet. Most people will gladly pay a bit more to receive faster, better service and continue to enjoy a thriving Internet ecosystem that isn’t stymied by government regulation and lack of funding.