Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican and chairman of the Committee on
Commerce, Science, and Transportation, this week introduced the Internet Regulatory Freedom Act of 1999.
McCain believes that congressional assurances of no Internet regulation
will help promote the development and deployment of advanced
telecommunication services nationwide.
“Advanced telecommunications is a critical component of our
economic and social well-being. Information technology now accounts for
over one-third of our economic growth.”
McCain added that “Americans with access to high-speed Internet service
will get the best of what the Internet has to offer in the way of on-line commerce, advanced interactive educational services, tele-medicine,
tele-commuting, and video-on-demand. But what it also means is that
Americans who don’t have access to high-speed Internet service won’t enjoy these same advantages.
The Arizona senator believes the “Information Age of
telecommunications can serve as a great equalizer, eliminating the
disadvantages of geographic isolation and socioeconomic status that have
carried over from the Industrial Age.”
According to McCain only 2 percent of all American homes are served by networks capable of providing high-speed data service and that of those U.S. homes,
much of the broadband access is provided by cable services.
“If this situation is allowed to continue, many Americans who live in
remote areas or who don’t make a lot of money won’t get high-speed Internet
service anywhere near as fast as others will.”
Seeking to eliminate the potential to create a U.S. Internet access strata of
“haves” and “have nots,” McCain’s Internet Regulatory Freedom Act is
designed to eliminate social inequalities of broadband Internet access.
McCain noted that local telephone company lines go to almost every home in
America and that local telephone companies are ready and willing to upgrade
existing copper lines to provide advanced high-speed data services.
The senator contents that telephone companies are not able to offer
broadband services as quickly as cable companies are, because telephone
companies operate under unnecessary legal and regulatory restrictions.
“The 1996 Telecommunications Act effectively nationalized telephone
industry competition. The act has been a complete and
utter failure insofar as most Americans are concerned. All the average
consumer has gotten are higher prices for many existing services, with
little or no new competitive offerings.”
“We must not let this misguided law produce the same misbegotten results when it comes to making high-speed
data services available and affordable to all Americans.”
McCain said cable companies posses an advantage in deployment of
advanced Internet services because they can roll out cable modem access
quickly in a regulation-free environment, while federal regulation
significantly impedes the ability of telephone companies to do the same.
“This is blatantly unfair to the telephone companies. The benefits of
business development, employment, and economic growth will go where the
advanced data networks go. If these benefits go to urbanized, high-income
areas first, the resulting disparities may well be difficult, if not
impossible, to equalize.”
McCain believes that “unfettered competition, not federal regulatory
micro-management, is the best way of making sure that high-speed data
services will be widely available and affordable.”
McCain emphatically stated unrestrained competition to deploy advanced
telecommunications services is “what I want, what consumers deserve, and
what this legislation will do.”
After a career in the U.S. Navy and two terms as a congressman,
John McCain is currently serving his third term in the U.S. Senate.