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Proponents of net neutrality argue that the role of our ISPs is to simply relay information, regardless of its type or strain on the network, essentially making our networks “dumb pipes” like those for water or electricity. But this concept ignores the brilliance of Internet networks – which are “smart” and can be managed fairly and non-discriminatingly for more efficient use. This network management helps ISPs meet consumer demand and in the future could provide customized services like mobile and remote health care monitoring, flexible education and smart energy use in homes. Simply put, net neutrality limits flexibility in what tomorrow’s networks and Internet experiences will look like. As the D.C. Circuit Court issued its decision, it would behoove us all to take a deep breath and move on to more pressing matters that Congress and the FCC have on their agendas.
This country has always been the innovation capital of the world, and in 2014 Congress and the FCC can help maintain our position by shaping an Internet policy framework for the future, moving forward on spectrum auctions, and putting the net neutrality debate behind us once and for all.
Eva Clayton is a former Democratic member of Congress who represented eastern North Carolina from 1992–2003.