Response to FCC Chairman Genachowski’s Net Neutrality backpedaling

This is my response to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s recent announcement in which he backpedals from his initial promise to support Net Neutrality. It seems that the term the FCC has coined “Open Internet” is what he is lobbying for now. This so-called “Open Internet” falls very short of the free speech protections needed to ensure continued growth from all sectors, not just media conglomerates.

Mr. Genachowski:

As vice president of a small cable operator and Internet service provider, I often find myself swimming upstream against the cable industry tides.  Again, I find that my opinion is in opposition to that of most cable and phone companies, but I have not hidden my position on Net Neutrality from my industry colleagues.

The value of high-speed Internet service is based on the existence of an open and free network.  Without that freedom, the Internet will become the nightmarish legal quagmire that cable and satellite TV tiers have become: a corporation-controlled landscape of confidential deals and force-fed consumers.

I am concerned about the recent developments that threaten free speech on the Internet.  Less than five years ago, congress was poised to attack the cable networks’ programming tier model by mandating a-la-carté offerings.  Today, amidst the political distractions of our nation’s other, seemingly more pressing woes, the Internet is edging closer and closer toward a locked-down oligarchical model and a disastrous future for consumers and small businesses alike.  My challenge has been convincing other small and medium sized cable operators to see that it makes good business sense for them to support a neutral Internet, as a network under any other structure will stifle free speech under the control of the largest of the media giants.

I urge you, Mr. Chairman, to reconsider and take a stronger position in favor of Network Neutrality.  As an advocate for the American people you owe it to them to protect online freedom of speech, which in the 21st century, is as important as any other.

Levi C. Maaia
Vice President, Full Channel
Warren, R.I.