For the construction industry, the Internet has changed how business is done. A new proposal could change the game for the ‘open Internet.’

On February 4, the FCC, www.fcc.gov, Washington, D.C., Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed clear, enforceable rules to preserve and protect the open Internet. More specifically, the proposal provides a legal foundation for the future including reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

According to the FCC, more than 55% of Internet traffic is carried over wireless networks. The FCC says an open Internet allows free expression to blossom without fear of an Internet provider acting as a gatekeeper, while also giving innovators predictable rules of the road to deliver new products and services online.

In response to the Wheeler’s proposal, analysts from The Heartland Institute, www.heartland.org, Chicago, Ill., are sounding off about concerns related to the proposal.

“Title II reclassification for the Internet and net neutrality are bad policy proposals that simply refuse to die,” says Matthew Glans, senior policy analyst, The Heartland Institute. “Title II regulations are a throwback to a system that no longer exists and is ill-suited to today’s dynamic Internet and broadband markets. The Internet has never really been neutral, and the best way to ensure fair service is to promote competition by reducing, not increasing, the amount of legislation.”

He specifically points to consequences of the policies including halting rapid growth of ecommerce, suppressing broadband development, and blocking Internet service providers from managing the networks they spent billions of dollars to develop.

“When the profit incentive to build new networks is blunted by burdensome regulations, regulators should not be surprised that providers are reluctant to expand and consumers lose out on new products and services,” he says.

Jim Lakely, codirector, Center on the Digital Economy, The Heartland Institute, looks at it from a different perspective: The FCC wants to strictly regulate the Internet so it can justify its existence.

“Radio, over-the-air television, and cable TV are still regulated by the FCC,” he says. “But the Millennial generation increasingly bypasses these options, listening to podcasts and streaming video on-demand … Time and money-burning lawsuits will put his plan on hold—time Congress should use to pass a new Communications Act for the 21st that reins in an increasingly rogue agency that is sure to break an Internet that does not require a government fix.”

The chairman’s comprehensive proposal will be voted on at the FCC’s February 26 open meeting.

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