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Disapproving the Rule Submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with Respect to Regulating the Internet and Broadband Industry Practices--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. AYOTTE. Madam President, I rise today in support of S.J. Res. 6, the FCC Internet and broadband resolution of disapproval. There are so many reasons to support this resolution and oppose the FCC's rulemaking on net neutrality.

I could focus on regulatory overreach, the lack of cost-benefit analysis to justify this rulemaking, consistent court rulings showing the lack of FCC legal authority to implement net neutrality or even the aggressive nature of this administration to regulate at all costs.

However, today I would like to talk about the most important reason to support this Resolution in opposition of net neutrality--jobs.

Last year, the telecommunications industry invested over $65 billion in our domestic economy. These billions of dollars go toward infrastructure, network expansion, and continual upgrades, all of which will drive job creation in a growth sector. For every billion dollars invested, there is a direct correlation to 3,400 created jobs.

What is at stake in this debate is nothing more than the government trying to take over the Internet in a misguided attempt to regulate a dynamic industry into a static platform. This approach will stifle innovation.

If companies are devoting $65 billion a year to building out their networks, but do not have the ability to control and manage their investments, then they are going to stop investing tens of billions of dollars into their product. It really is that simple. No company is going to continue to invest at such a fast rate if they will be forced to cede partial control over to government regulators.

In a down-economy, telecommunications has been one of the few bright spots. Why? Because of a light-touch, hands-off regulatory approach. Now the FCC is pursuing a political agenda by attempting to undermine the industry. The FCC has not won in the courts or through the legislative process in Congress, so it has resorted to expanding the regulatory process.

According to a 2010 study entitled ``The Economic Impact of Broadband Investment,'' 434,000 jobs have been created in the broadband industry in the past decade, and in the next 5 years, we can expect over 500,000 additional jobs to be created.

To help protect these jobs, we must stop this government over-reach. IT investment accounts for 47 percent of all U.S. nonstructural investment and as I mentioned, the job creation from this is a bright spot in our economy. We must continue the hands-off approach that results in job creation and allows our companies--big, small and everything in between--to do what they do best: innovate, invest in the future, and create jobs.

We need to support policies that encourage investment in tomorrow's technologies, not hamper innovation. According to the FCC's own National Broadband Plan, in 2003 only 15 percent of Americans had access to broadband. Today that number is 96 percent, and we cannot stop until we have 100 percent market-saturation. Parts of northern New Hampshire are included in this remaining 4 percent, so to get the rest of my state, and our great country, access to broadband, we must have policies that encourage private-sector investment and growth.

We have heard it said many times, but it is worth repeating: net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem that does not exist. There is no market failure and no justifiable reason to impose such onerous regulations. Quite the contrary--competition is at an all-time high in the telecommunications and broadband industry. Since the Internet was privatized in 1994, there has been a steady movement away from government control and roadblocks.

As FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell pointed out in his December 2010 dissent to the FCC's rulemaking on net neutrality, there are fewer than a handful of cases of alleged misconduct by an Internet service provider, and each of those cases was resolved by the courts in favor of the consumer. So as you can see, the consumer is well-protected by the existing system and does not need the heavy-hand of the government inserting itself with more regulations.

The White House this week issued a veto threat for this resolution. However, in doing so it made our point for us. The White House says it would be ``ill-advised to threaten the very foundation of innovation in the Internet economy'' but then says we need to keep the Internet ``free and open.'' Well I have news for the White House--the Internet is free and open. I sent a letter, along with 10 of my Senate Commerce Committee Republicans to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowki a couple of months ago asking him to provide a market justification and cost/benefit analysis for imposing net neutrality regulations. In his response, he could not cite any examples of market failure to justify such a rash rulemaking. Why? Because no rationale exists. There is no market failure.

I fear that if net neutrality were to become law, we would be taking an irreversible step backwards at a time when our economy needs it least.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution and say no to government attempting to take over the Internet.


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