CEO Gonick Urges FCC to Safeguard the Open Internet

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OneCommunity CEO Lev Gonick submitted the following letter to the FCC Commissioners urging them to support unfettered and non-discriminatory access to the Internet.

July 15, 2014

Mr. Thomas Wheeler
Chairman and Commissioner
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Re: GN Docket No. 14-28 Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

Dear Chairman Wheeler and FCC Commissioners:

OneCommunity is Ohio’s largest public benefit network provider. Since our inception in 2004, we, and our publically accountable Board of Trustees, have maintained strong and unwavering support for the principles of Network Neutrality and the Open Internet. We believe that the ‘national purposes’ of our National Broadband Plan, specifically the health and wellness of the nation, the education and workforce development of our society, the neighborhood and public safety of the country, and the global competitiveness of the economy can best be assured by re-committing, protecting, and promoting an Open Internet.

Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, the so-called crisis of bandwidth availability is largely a manufactured crisis. Those who would assert that entertainment demand has generated a crisis of availability are attempting to beat the drum of scarcity as a proxy for public policy. In reality the only thing that is scarce is a policy framework that actually drives competition in the marketplace. Any effort to redefine how we protect and promote the open Internet must assure that the marketplace becomes more, not less, competitive in the decade ahead.  Monopolistic behavior by the incumbents and ISPs is easy to understand.  The best way that community broadband providers can advance and catalyze competitive behavior is to reaffirm our role as one of the champions of ‘national purposes’ through an unwavering commitment to Open Internet access.

OneCommunity believes that unfettered and non-discriminated access to the Internet is a right that best advances the ‘national purposes’ of the National Broadband Plan. As a provider of advanced broadband services to Northeast Ohio’s public-benefit organizations we believe that demand for abundant Internet/network services will only grow and that tax payer-funded community networks should operate in a neutral, non-proprietary manner. We do not believe that our public policy goals in health, education, public safety, and economic competitiveness can be advanced if there is a tacit or explicit support for tiered access based on ability to pay. OneCommunity is committed through its Charter, and responsibility to the public financing of our community network, to provide equitable access to knowledge, content, and services and ensure that it is a platform for digital collaboration and innovation, without restrictions or barriers.

The public benefit of “big data” applications, predictive analytics, and all the potential of the Internet of Things, are all best served when we assure new entrants to the marketplace that they will have a competitive opportunity to disrupt the incumbents.  However, there are those who believe that their market position can best be secured by reducing the competitive landscape in their favor.  We are 100% confident that future innovation, wealth and job creation attending to our national policy goals will be accelerated by advancing next generation networks that embrace 1 Gigabit per second as a mainstream standard and is undergirded by a policy commitment to equal access.   The community anchor institutions (CAIs) and public benefit organizations that we serve are positioned to leverage bandwidth-dependent services, supports and applications to serve their constituencies. This assures us in Northeast Ohio with the opportunity to catalyze local and regional opportunities that meet our unique needs rather than a harmonized service offering that is dictated by those with little or any interest in our specific future. The determinant of the quality and breadth of the services that CAI’s provide shouldn’t be dependent on their constituent’s socio-economic status and their ability to pay for access. Nor should they be impeded by an upstream provider’s ability to establish barriers to entry for their competition.

Considerable investments have been made both at the federal, state, and local level to fund the creation of middle mile networks and community benefit networks like OneCommunity.  These “open” networks are the foundation of our nation’s commitment to a competitive 21st century digital infrastructure. We encourage the FCC to leverage the nationwide investments in community benefit networks through policies and funding that will stitch together these networks to create a national public benefit network that provides critical infrastructure for broad scale use to advance national priorities (like education, healthcare, and government services).

OneCommunity supports a competitive broadband ecosystem that includes public policy interventions to assure openness. We believe that local, community-based network providers like OneCommunity are an important competitive force to assure a culture of abundance and a catalyst for new discoveries, better education, safer communities, 21st century jobs and workforce development, healthier families, and unleashing the innovation capabilities of Northeast Ohio.

Respectfully submitted,

Lev Gonick
President and CEO, OneCommunity

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