Broadband: Presidential Policies Primer

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WASHINGTON — The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation last week released a side-by-side comparison of the broadband telecom policy positions of President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, based on “campaign websites, party platforms, Administration documents, and media reports.” There was agreement on Internet freedom when it came to international governance issues. Not so much when it came to the Federal Communications Commission’s network-neutrality rules. Many of the differences were rooted in the basic Democratic-Republican divide over the role of government regulation. Some excerpts from the report:

Barack Obama

Wireless Spectrum: Supports net-neutrality conditions on some spectrum auctions and substantial new allocations for “white spaces” and other unlicensed uses.

Network Neutrality: Pledged strong support for net neutrality in 2008 campaign and endorsed FCC’s Open Internet Rules. The FCC has kept the Title II Docket open to induce compliance with Open Internet rules. Supports exemption of wireless networks from most netneutrality rules.

Telecom Pricing: FCC has suspended “special access” Internet backhaul de-regulation and opened a docket on potential price controls.

International Internet Governance: State Department has taken a strong position against the desire of the International Telecommunications Union to exercise control over the pricing of Internet interconnections and technical standards. Supports continuation of current decentralized, multi-stakeholder model.

Mitt Romney

Wireless Spectrum: Would not place net-neutrality conditions on spectrum auctions and would allocate much less spectrum to “white spaces” and other unlicensed uses.

Network Neutrality: Prefers to rely on market forces and disclosure to discipline carrier behavior and increase investment. Republican Party platform calls FCC’s net-neutrality rule an attempt to “micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad network.” Republican FCC appointees have indicated that they would desire to close the Title II Docket and to exclude both wired and wireless networks from net-neutrality rules.

Telecom Pricing: Favors continued deregulation of “special access” Internet backhaul and private investment in fiber.

International Internet Governance: Strongly opposes an ITU takeover of interconnect pricing or technical standards. Supports continuation of current decentralized, multi-stakeholder model.