Rep. Walden: Old Rules Shouldn't Govern New Nets

House Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) gave a shout out to municipal broadband buildouts—"when necessary"—but suggests the best policies for boosting broadband infrastructure investment don't include "using old rules to regulate new networks," an apparent reference to the FCC's reclassification of Internet access under Title II.

That is according to his opening statement for the July 22 hearing in his subcommittee on “Promoting Broadband Infrastructure Investment."

Walden emphasized the trillions in public and private dollars that have been invested in broadband infrastructure, suggesting the government should not get in the way.

Republicans have generally sided with cable ops and other ISPs in arguing that the FCC's reclassification of ISPs under Title II adds layers of potential regulation, and regulatory uncertainty, that will discourage investment.

"Despite the clear demand for high-speed services, investment in network infrastructure is not for the faint of heart. A staggering amount of capital is required to deploy fiber, antennas, routers, and switches to build a network with useful scale. Those who invest often won’t see returns for years; and the return comes only if the service satisfies enough customers to keep them coming back," he said. "There are real challenges to investing in broadband infrastructure, our laws shouldn’t be among them."

Walden said enough had not been done to expedite access to poles and federal lands and buildings and improving tower siting, hurdles he said need to be overcome to help promote "efficient" investment and deployment.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.