WASHINGTON, February 2, 2010 - Three minority business groups came together on Tuesday to criticize proposed network neutrality regulations, and discussed their joint filing on the subject at the Federal Communications Commission.
Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Justin Nelson, president of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Javier Palomarez, president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce participated in the conference call.
The business officials expressed concern over internet regulation, emphasizing their priority to bring broadband access to minority populations.
They said that broadband plays a role in job creation and as a vehicle for innovation, growth, and competition. This, they said, was a reason to avoid net neutrality regulations, as they could slow down the deployment of broadband networks in underserved areas.
In response to a question about how the national broadband plan reflected their own agenda, Alford and Palomarez said that the national plan should help provide better broadband access for small business owners.
The speakers also said that they needed to educate their constituents about the use of broadband. Alford said that African-American small business ownership has grown rapidly, due in part to use of broadband technology.
Alford and Nelson also spoke about the role that telecommunications has played in recovering from the Haiti earthquake. The use of mobile broadband devices was particularly significant in aiding victims.
Nelson used the response to the Haitian earthquake to argue against regulation.
When asked why they believed investments and Net Neutrality were mutually exclusive, Alford and Palomarez said bureaucracy was a major concern, and Alford also criticized the FCC’s proposed regulation as being too “hypothetical.”
Nelson said that the lack of predictability in telecommunications made regulation pointless, and that Net neutrality would only slow down broadband deployment in underserved areas as a result.
“We’ve seen what happens with regulation elsewhere; it ties industry’s hands,” Nelson said.
“There is a lack of demonstrated need for regulation in an industry that has been largely open and available,” he said. “We don’t want to see anything happen that will stifle growth and opportunity for small businesses, no matter where they are in the country—let them compete and be globally competitive.”