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Over-Regulation Will Stifle Wireless Broadband Investment and Adoption by African Americans 19 seconds ago | Also Featured in Policy Technology

By Melanie Campbell, President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Oct 10, 2012

Among the most influential and powerful drivers of modern civilization, broadband has to rank in the top tier along with the automobile, electric lights and the printing press. In 2009, the Federal Communications Commission declared that broadband

“has transformed our nation’s economy, culture, and democracy… [and] has been a launching pad for innumerable creative and entrepreneurial ventures; enabled businesses small and large, wherever located, to reach customers around the globe; allowed individuals in remote parts of America to access information and services previously unavailable to them; and made it possible for the voice of a single citizen—whether in the form of a blog post, online video, or tweet—to influence world events.”

Over the past several years, affordable access, adoption and use of broadband have grown exponentially, thanks to the explosive growth of handheld wireless devices like smartphones and tablets. And while adoption of wireless service and wireless devices among Americans of all races has grown rapidly, African Americans have been the fastest to adopt these new technologies. Never before in the history of modern technology have African Americans, as well as Latinos, been #1 in adoption – an extraordinary feat that the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) has pronounced the “Minority Wireless Miracle.” This trend in adoption, can go a long way in helping to close the “digital divide” that has threatened to create what MMTC characterized as “permanent second class digital citizenship.”

What’s driving broadband deployment? The exponential demand among consumers for high-speed mobile broadband and the ability to download videos, apps and music, interact with friends on social media sites, and research just about any topic online. Even with the rapid increase in demand, wireless carriers have continued to manage the increased data flow effectively.

But to manage tomorrow’s network capacity limits given the growing consumer data flow needs, it will require more spectrum to be deployed nationwide. Who will pay for this expanded broadband infrastructure – fiber, cell towers, switches and more? The answer is private investment – tens of billions of dollars of it every year. Our government simply lacks the discretionary funding needed to build out – to all Americans, urban and rural – the very fast broadband infrastructure consumers have come to expect and need.

One way the FCC can help is by ensuring that wireless broadband networks and services are regulated sufficiently to protect consumers from fraud and abuse, while at the same time not over-regulating the Internet so intensely that regulation discourages private investment, slows broadband deployment, and drives network buildout exclusively in cities and suburban areas where companies believe that they can make a profit.

Balanced regulation has helped make the Internet a success globally over the past decade. We believe a balanced regulation approach will continue to stimulate nationwide deployment of high speed mobile broadband and create a business environment conducive to the job-creating high-tech industries that rely on broadband to thrive, innovate and grow in more places across America.

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