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Peters Calls on FCC to Protect Net Neutrality for Small Businesses and Consumers

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Gary Peters (MI-14) sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling for the commission to protect access to the Internet for all consumers and prevent paid prioritization, discrimination or blocking of Internet traffic.

“Startups and small businesses are the engines of job creation and economic growth in Michigan, and they rely on open access to the Internet to stay competitive,” said Rep. Peters. “I have serious concerns that allowing large, established corporations to purchase faster services puts these startups and small businesses at a disadvantage and stifles innovation. I urge the FCC to protect consumers and companies from discrimination and ensure a robust net neutrality framework that will allow our startups and small businesses continue to grow and create jobs.”

Rep. Peters is an outspoken champion for domestic manufacturing and job creation in Michigan. He is co-chair of the bipartisan House Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and has helped create two successful small business programs, the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF), which have been credited with helping to leverage millions in private investment, spurring small business growth and creating thousands of jobs in Michigan. He also recently supported a measure to strengthen the U.S. research and development tax credit to encourage economic growth by helping small businesses make investments and new hires.

A copy of his letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler follows.

 

July 14, 2014

 

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street SW

Washington D.C. 20554

 

Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Rielly:

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to accept comments on the “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” proposal, I write to express my strong support for FCC action that preserves an open Internet, safeguards free expression and consumer choice, fosters innovation and competition, and promotes continued investment in our nation’s broadband networks. As you know, the Internet has become a critical tool that millions of Americans rely on to communicate with others, relay and receive emergency messages, and run their businesses. Transformative innovation made possible by our open Internet has been a significant driver of economic growth and job creation across the United States in the past two decades.

Just as you meet with stakeholders and solicit public comment, I regularly hear from constituents, small businesses, and startups in Michigan about this critical issue. As a Co-Chair of the bipartisan House Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I have serious concerns about the impact the proposed rules may have on startups and small businesses. Fast-growing startups in Michigan and across the country rely on broadband and the certainty provided by a nondiscriminatory regulatory structure. 

Allowing large, established corporations to purchase faster service puts these startups and small businesses at a disadvantage and stifles innovation. If large corporations can pay more for faster service for their content, this effectively creates a “slow lane” for everyone else. Fast-growing startups create a disproportionate number of new jobs across the United States, and these companies are the most negatively impacted when discriminatory rules create uncertainty and threaten the open structure of the Internet. Now more than ever, a robust net neutrality framework is critical to reaching the economic growth and job creation of which our nation is capable.

As you know, there have been significant developments in broadband and other telecommunications technology since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was signed into law.  While I believe Congress should engage in a comprehensive legislative process to examine updating this law, consumers, small businesses, startups, and investors cannot wait for Congress to act, thereby necessitating FCC rulemaking action in the short- and mid-term.

As these rules move through the public comment process and continue towards promulgation, I urge that you protect consumers and companies on both mobile and fixed platforms against discrimination, blocking, and paid prioritization. Transparency and accountability for service providers and regulators alike is vital.

I join the other Members of Congress, stakeholders, and citizens who have written to urge you to consider all jurisdictional bases, including Title II authority with appropriate forbearance, to protect speakers and innovators. 

It is my hope that an inclusive public comment period for the “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” proposal and further FCC consideration will yield a final rule that bars discrimination, demonstrates a commitment to meaningful network neutrality, protects innovation and free speech online, and promotes continued large-scale investment in broadband networks, both in Michigan and across our nation.  

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