Politics

President Obama To Announce Broadband Internet Regulation

| by Edward Arnold

Today, President Obama will announce a series of initiatives aiming to provide new alternatives to the few broadband internet companies available.

The effort will allow the Federal Communications Commission to override state law restricting local communities and governments the ability to generate alternative broadband networks.

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Currently, Americans in towns and cities across the country are limited to choosing between certain internet providers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Federal agencies will expand grants and loans for alternative projects to grow in small, city run areas.

Jeff Zients, director of Obama's National Economic Council, says that our internet service can be a frustrating experience because we simply don't have a choice.

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"When more companies compete for your broadband business, it means lower prices," he said on Tuesday. "Broadband is no longer a luxury. It's a necessity."

Politico reports that about 20 states have laws that make it diffucult for local governments to invest in new broadband networks. The giant telecom companies have lobbied across the country to make sure those laws exist. This proposal will most likely bring a legal battle on the FCC's authority over state laws.

Obama's initiative is aimed at growing competition and ensuring that limitations don't restrict the ability to change the supply of the internet market. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler commented on this type of competition.

"If the people, acting through their elected local governments, want to pursue competitive community broadband, they shouldn’t be stopped by state laws promoted by cable and telephone companies that don’t want that competition," he said.

The announcement comes at a time when the FCC is already reviewing the merger of telecom giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The FCC is also expected to release a set of net neutrality regulations that will eliminate the use of fast lanes for those who pay more.

Additionally, the President's State of the Union address on Jan. 20 will announce a series of tech-related initiatives. Yesterday, the President released a statement explaining reforms aimed at protecting America's digital infrastructure and deterring cyber threats. He also announced new proposals to protect Americans from identity theft.

The President is hoping these proposals will make the internet faster and cheaper.

Sources: Politico, Washington Post, White House /  Photo Credit: ABC News