December 2, 2017

Technology Huddle Question SD10

What is your position on Net Neutrality as previously defined by Tom Wheeler? What actions can or should we take at the state level?

Allison Campolo

When Tom Wheeler submitted his net neutrality proposal to the FCC in early 2015, he said this about it:

“I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections. Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.”

After this, he outlines how the investment and market interests can still be courted and encouraged in broadband networks. This is the net neutrality we have come to know and love – an open market where users do not have to pay extra to use the “wrong” company’s services, where all services are marketed at the same rate, speed, and availability, and where startup businesses have a fair shot without being undercut by the big companies.
I support this version of net neutrality.
Not only does the current federal administration want to do away with this open market which allows for users and startups to have a fair shot, but, as reported by Politico last week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also wants to hinder the states’ ability to introduce their own regulation rules.

Now, my clear preference is to not have a fractured United States on this issue and many others. I’d rather all of the states operate under the net neutrality laws which we currently have. It’s good for business and good for consumers. I can agree with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly that replacing the federal net neutrality rules with a “patchwork” of state requirements would be less than ideal.

But if the net neutrality repeal moves ahead as is currently suggested, you better believe I’ll be fighting for Texas to operate under the net neutral laws as Tom Wheeler intended. There is a precedent for this – when Congress revoked the current FCC privacy rules, 22 states proposed their own broadband privacy rules. The same can be done with net neutrality at the state level. Now, of course, this makes the large telecom companies nervous, and they have specifically lobbied to include language in the repeal plan which blocks states’ attempts to write their own net neutrality rules – by citing the internet as an interstate information service which can’t be regulated state-by-state. But, as we know, the end result has yet to be seen of the final language of the plan or if the repeal itself will move forward.

Whatever the outcome, the bottom line is this: Texan consumers and Texan businesses deserve to have their best shot in all realms – the internet included. If the federal government won’t protect us against unfair monopolies, this responsibility will fall to the states. And I won’t be shirking my responsibility.

Allison Campolo

Democrat for Texas State Senate District 10

Beverly Powell

I believe the internet should be open and free. As a State Senator, I will work to ensure that we are advocates for open and free internet and I will use the tools I have as a state official to ensure families across Texas have access to equal, quality internet. While net neutrality is a federal issue, there are a number of internet related issues that state lawmakers must address. The first and most important issue involves access.

Last Monday was “Cyber Monday”, making it clear how important internet access is to economic development and job creation. Unfortunately, too many Texans lack access to affordable quality internet. I recently spoke with a Democratic candidate in East Texas who told me that a constituent was paying over $100 for dial-up internet in 2017. That’s unacceptable!

The lack of access to broadband internet is not just a rural issue, according to Texas Public Radio, 21.8% of Fort Worth homes lack internet access. In a time where access to quality internet is required for everything from applying for a job to checking in with high school friends, the lack of internet access among some communities is startling.