Newspaper column: Two different approaches to Internet access

When boiled down to its essence, the key difference between the two major political parties is this: Democrats believe government is the solution. Republicans believe government is the problem.
This difference is on display with bills being pushed by two Nevada senatorial candidates — incumbent Republican Dean Heller and challenger Jacky Rosen, currently a freshman congresswoman.
Rosen recently introduced legislation that would reinstate the Obama administration’s 2015 net neutrality rule, which gave the Federal Communications Commission sweeping powers to micromanage the internet. The FCC recently voted 3-2 to remove that rule, saying itwas stifling internet innovation.
“This administration’s reckless decision to repeal net neutrality gives internet service providers the ability to stack the deck against Nevada’s hardworking families and small businesses who could be forced to pay more to connect to an internet with slower speeds,” Rosen said in a press release following the introduction of her bill. “This resolution would reverse the FCC’s misguided ruling, which places large corporate profits ahead of people, and restore access to a free and open internet for Nevadans.”

Fiber optic cables. (AP pix)

Actually, according to The Wall Street Journal, the rule created uncertainty about what the FCC would allow and thus throttled investment in new technology, because it prohibited “paid prioritization,” under which bandwidth hogs, such as video streaming companies, could have opted out of heavy traffic and switched to a toll road, just as occurs on congested highways. The newspaper said both content providers and consumers would benefit from increased investment in faster wireless and fiber technology in the free market.
The Journal noted that the new FCC rules “would require that broadband providers disclose discriminatory practices. Thus cable companies would have to be transparent if they throttle content when users reach a data cap or if they speed up live sports programming. Consumers can choose broadband providers and plans accordingly.” Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission would still have authority to police predatory and monopolistic practices as it had prior to the net neutrality power grab.
In an opinion article penned for the online news service The Nevada Independent, Rosen made the specious argument, “Nevada families should not be forced to pay more for slower Internet because big telecommunications corporations want to increase their profits,” showing the customary Democratic disdain for profits. She also claimed, “Without net neutrality, rural communities, who are often limited to only one Internet service provider, could find themselves at the mercy of a single provider,” ignoring the fact that curbing profits ensures the continuation of such monopolies.
As for rural communities, Heller has offered a bill that would help cut through the thicket of government bureaucracy to actually speed up private internet investment, innovation and construction. Noting 85 percent of the land in Nevada is controlled by various federal land agencies, Heller’s bill would create a 270-day clock for the Interior Department and the Forest Service to approve or deny applications for easements or rights-of-way across federal land for broadband infrastructure projects. If the federal agencies miss the deadline, the application is deemed approved. If the application is denied, the agency must explain the reason for denial.
The bill further requires the federal agencies to establish regulations within one year that reflect a streamlined, consistent, and standardized process for application review.
“Access to high-speed broadband is a pillar of economic growth in the U.S., yet Nevada’s rural communities continue to lag behind because bureaucratic red tape prevents expansion of broadband infrastructure,” Heller said in a press release. “Given that nearly 85 percent of Nevada is owned by the federal government, many applications to deploy broadband on federal lands remain stalled in a lengthy interagency approval process. From Ely to Pahrump, I continue to hear that this bureaucratic hurdle is stifling innovation and job creation in our rural communities.”
Asked via email for comment on this topic, Heller’s Republican primary challenger Danny Tarkanian replied, “Overall, I believe in the most freedom-centered version of the internet possible. Technology, on the whole and more specifically the internet, are a boon to democracy and have done more to lend a voice to the people than just about any modern invention. Keeping the internet as an instrument of free-communication as well as of commerce are essential to the cause of liberty.”
Tarkanian added that he opposes any regulation that allows carriers to restrict access or create false tiers with which to charge customers increased rates for service.
A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

14 comments on “Newspaper column: Two different approaches to Internet access

  1. Steve says:

    The more I find out the more I discover this whole thing is just as rotten as hell.
    Did you know Comcast sells COX’s business service in Nevada? Did you know the reality is all the cable companies are one, all of them under the same corporate umbrella? Monopoly? No kidding!
    Centurylink stays out of COX’s areas and COX stays out of Centurylink’s. And Centurylink is buying up all the “rural” phone companies, turning themselves into yet another monopolistic power.
    Reality is, in Nevada, the population centers have only ONE broadband provider to get internet service delivered over the “last mile”, never mind the rural areas who are completely screwed by our internet monopoly.
    Both sides are wrong, something needs to be done to encourage more providers and higher speeds for all the population, not just getting the same low ball service we in the population centers have. out to the rurals. That argument is a total sham. Currently there is NO competition, they are carving up the country and no one is doing anything to break the the monopoly or regulate it in any meaningful way.
    What’s worse is, today any gainful employment absolutely requires high speed access to the whole (unfiltered) internet.

    Both Rosen (who was in the industry) and Heller (who should know better) are wrong.

  2. Rincon says:

    Right you are, Steve. The capacity of any other utility has never been too small for long in this country. If there wasn’t enough electricity, the power company created more generating capacity. Now, Conservatives think rationing the Internet is just fine. If the system is too slow, then speed the damn thing up! We’re heading for 3rd world status for Internet speed just like we are in many other ways. Our average mobile speed is on a par with that of Thailand. We rank somewhat better in overall speed: #16 in the world. Hardly the world leader that we were once upon a time.

    Charging users by the volume of their data services is fine; making the peons wait in a queue while the rich cut into line is disgusting.

  3. Steve says:

    So called “net neutrality” is only another term for rationing the available capacity, while ensuring the monopoly continued unabated.
    On one hand, the only way to have side by side competition in this medium is to have a wire for each and every service provider. We are also running out of available radio spectrum to bring wireless high speed (LTE recently reached gigabit download speeds and 5G is coming) In any case that really opens the door to second way to provide access to high speed internet. So how much wire do you want traveling throughout your neighborhood to each and every house?
    On the other hand, do we go with one service for the whole country ALA “THE phone company” of old? (Remember Lily Tomlin? She knew no one liked the telephone company)

    The best answer is to allow the market to flourish and find the balance we are all willing to accept. But trying to pick a liberal winner or a conservative winner is not the way.

  4. Rincon says:

    South Korea seems to have no such difficulties. Why don’t we just do what has already been shown to work?

  5. Steve says:

    The USA is not South Korea.
    The USA should do what it does best, free up the market and encourage competition.

  6. Rincon says:

    By refusing to adopt approaches similar to other nations in a variety of areas, we have managed to flirt with third world status in a variety of ways. Why do we always think our present way of doing things is the best when so many other countries achieve better results than we do? Sounds like hubris to me.

  7. Steve says:

    “The Other America” prompted much of Johnson’s “Great Society”. That book was predicated on other countries so called “success” with socialism. It created our “welfare/entitlement state”
    Such a success…it keeps demanding more and more and more with no end in sight.

  8. Rincon says:

    You’ve just helped to make my point. As most Americans do, you look at the success of other countries, note that some vague imitation of it here doesn’t work to your satisfaction and then conclude that success is impossible – even though many other countries succeed.

  9. Steve says:

    The Great Society “vague imitation”

    It is to laugh.

  10. Rincon says:

    Well, since we have a Republican majority in both houses and a Republican President, then they can just deep six all of the Great Society programs, can’t they? So why don’t they? Let’s go through some of these programs one at a time.

    Civil Rights Act: Outlawed discrimination on the basis of color, gender, religion, or national origin. Outlawed separate but equal facilities for blacks and whites. I guess if you yearn for the days of black people riding in the back of the bus, then nothing I say will matter.

    War on Poverty legislation: In 1964, when the Economic Opportunity Act was signed, approximately 20% of Americans lived in poverty. Over the next ten years, that dropped to 12% and has stayed in that vicinity ever since. Hard to prove cause and effect, but it’s ridiculous to say it was ineffective when poverty dropped so precipitously.

    Education: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided federal money, for the first time, to primary schools in impoverished areas. Since education was only funded locally at that time, only upper and middle class areas could afford good schooling. As a Conservative, I know that you think poor people should be left to rot in their own filth. Johnson felt that ALL children deserved a reasonably good education, even if their parents couldn’t afford one. This is a deep philosophical disagreement and cannot be overcome here.

    Medicare and Medicaid: Do you really want to just eliminate these? Although Conservatives constantly complain about these, the public would tar and feather anyone trying to eliminate them. Medicare took the most unprofitable patients from the insurance companies. In order to assess these programs, the first question is, how would you deal with disease among the elderly and poor? I know, I know. We’ve been through this before. I seem to remember Athos saying the hospital should have left him bleeding on the sidewalk. No, neglecting them entirely is not a reasonable option.

    Federal funding on NPR and PBS: You got me on that one.

    Air Quality Act: I’m sure you long for the days when the air in Gary, Indiana was orange. I don’t.

    Housing and Urban Development: While a flawed approach, we still have nowhere near enough affordable housing in this country, even though each of us produces twice as much per person as our 1960’s counterparts. If you say HUD failed, you have to admit that capitalism failed first.

    Fair Packaging and Labeling Act: “This is a strong but simple law. It requires the manufacturer to tell the shopper clearly and understandably exactly what is in the package, who made it, how much it contains, how much it costs.” Before this act, our food didn’t even have a list of ingredients. I’m sure you believe that product manufacturers should have kept their right to obscure what it was that they were selling us.

    Child Protection Act: Banned the sale or use of toys and other children’s articles that contain dangerous or deadly substances. I suppose you still long for the days when Johnnie’s toy truck was painted with lead based paint.

    Immigration Act: A reasonable change of immigration law at the time, but it has had no effect on US immigration since at least the Reagan years.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to find out just how much the Great Society programs actually improved America. Although imperfect at the time and still today, we would all suffer a great loss if all of these changes were reversed today. Memory is charitable, but the ’60’s and before weren’t wonderful in every way, Leave It To Beaver notwithstanding.

  11. Steve says:

    “Well, since we have a Republican majority in both houses and a Republican President, then they can just deep six all of the Great Society programs, can’t they?”

    Once given, it is almost impossible to remove a government freebee.

    Welfare for all! Screw the debt!

  12. Rincon says:

    Impossible to remove a government freebie? You’re making excuses for the Republicans, I see.

    You got it wrong anyway. It’s, tax cuts for all, especially the rich! Screw the debt!

  13. Steve says:

    “Impossible to remove a government freebie?”

    Then get your Democrats to do it!

    Not holding my breath….

  14. […] Rep. Jacky Rosen, now a senator-elect, stated, “This administration’s reckless decision to repeal net neutrality gives internet service […]

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