At CNET News, Larry Downes writes that the Obama administration has lost some of its enthusiasm for aggressive regulatory intervention of the Internet. The latest evidence, according to Downes, is a comment this week by White House deputy CTO Andrew McLaughlin noting that the FCC has yet to determine whether Net neutrality is needed to preserve the open Internet.
The administration is clearly backtracking. But why?
Part of the reason is some unexpected political pressure, including a letter signed by 72 congressional Democrats opposing the FCC’s proposed rules soon after they were announced.
But the bigger explanation is the growing priority within the administration for nationwide, affordable broadband service. In the course of preparing the national broadband plan, mandated by the 2009 stimulus bill, universal high-speed access has taken on increased significance in the government’s hopes for a rapid economic recovery. Beyond the current financial woes, Congress, the FCC and the White House all recognize the importance of improving the communications infrastructure to maintain U.S. competitiveness in technology innovation.