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The Tech Community Voices Its Support for Net Neutrality

More than 800 companies and venture firms signed their names to an open letter sent to the head of the FCC.
The Tech Community Voices Its Support for Net Neutrality

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday proposed a reversal of existing net neutrality rules that were instituted in 2015. The rules reclassified broadband internet service providers as public utilities in an effort to create a more open internet, not weighted to those entities that could pay more to receive faster service.

Led by Engine, Techstars and Y Combinator, more than 800 members of the tech community, including Chartbeat, Etsy, Medium and Matter Ventures, signed their names to an open letter protesting the move.

Read the full letter below.

Related: FCC Chairman Pledges to Undo Net Neutrality Rules

The Honorable Ajit Pai
Chairman Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Chairman Pai:

As a group of startups, entrepreneurs, investors, and the organizations who support them from all 50 states, we were excited to hear about your recent regional tour with startups and innovators and learn about your plans to drive better, faster broadband deployment across the U.S.

During your tour, you noted that "High-speed Internet access, or broadband, is giving rise to what I have called the democratization of entrepreneurship. With a powerful plan and a digital connection, you can raise capital, start a business, immediately reach a worldwide customer base, and disrupt an entire industry." We couldn’t agree more. Each of our businesses is an example of the sort of innovation and investment that meaningful broadband access has fueled.

But the success of America’s startup ecosystem depends on more than improved broadband speeds. We also depend on an open Internet -- including enforceable net neutrality rules that ensure big cable companies can’t discriminate against people like us. We’re deeply concerned with your intention to undo the existing legal framework.

Without net neutrality, the incumbents who provide access to the Internet would be able to pick winners or losers in the market. They could impede traffic from our services in order to favor their own services or established competitors. Or they could impose new tolls on us, inhibiting consumer choice. Those actions directly impede an entrepreneur’s ability to “start a business, immediately reach a worldwide customer base, and disrupt an entire industry.” Our companies should be able to compete with incumbents on the quality of our products and services, not our capacity to pay tolls to Internet access providers.

Fortunately, in 2015 the Federal Communications Commission put in place light touch net neutrality rules that not only prohibit certain harmful practices, but also allow the Commission to develop and enforce rules to address new forms of discrimination. We are concerned by reports that you would replace this system with a set of minimum voluntary commitments, which would give a green light for Internet access providers to discriminate in unforeseen ways.

Rather than dismantling regulations that allow the startup ecosystem to thrive, we urge you to focus instead on policies that would promote a stronger Internet for everyone. We applaud efforts to remove unnecessary barriers to construction of new networks, which would foster increased competition and faster, more affordable, open Internet access. We appreciate your consideration and stand at the ready to provide insights that support this work.

Edition: May 2017

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