Commerce Committee member Senator Marco Rubio told a Free
State Foundation forum audience Thursday that he hopes the FCC's network
neutrality rules are overturned and warned against classifying Internet access
under Title II as a backstop.
In a speech outlining his communications priorities, he said
they were chiefly keeping the Internet free of regulation foreign and domestic,
making sure enough spectrum was being freed up, and FCC process reform.
All that came under a philosophical umbrella of light-touch
regulation that spurs investment in the economy. He criticized legacy
regulations unsuited to a digital world, saying the market had moved past
brick-sized phones and giant desk-top computers and that it was time Congress
moved past the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
He seconded FCC commissioner Ajit Pai -- an earlier speaker
at the conference -- on a number of points, including applying cost-benefit
analysis to regulations and reforming forbearance authority, and sounded the
call for bringing down regulatory silos, an issue close to the heart of Free
He suggested the FCC chairman's disinclination to close the
Title II docket remained an overhanging threat of Internet regulation.
"I hope that net neutrality mandates are overturned in
court," he said. "And if that occurs, we must be prepared to oppose
efforts by proponents of net neutrality to reclassify broadband and pass
legislation doing so."
It may be a while before the case is settled, given that the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has yet to schedule oral argument in
As to efforts by some countries -- China, Russia, some Arab
states -- to create a more top-down Internet governance model, he said:
"We cannot stand idly by as countries try to justify censorship or
economic regulation of the Internet. If we do, we will lose the very essence of
what makes the Internet unique and great, and jeopardize the promise the
Internet holds for the digital transition."
Rubio made a big push for spectrum for mobile broadband,
including for more government spectrum. But he said the reason was not because
wireless companies want it, but for the impact it will have on the economy and
the people, particularly minorities who are disproportionately wireless
"Estimates are that for every 500 MHz of spectrum made
available for commercial use, that's an additional 350,000 jobs created and $87
billion for our GDP," he said. "We have to [find more spectrum] for
economic mobility. Wireless is the preferred route to the Internet for our
minority populations. Hispanics and African-American wireless adoption outpace
the general population. The path to economic prosperity for our minority
populations is in large part wireless."