Recently, California joined more than twenty other forward looking states who have sought to extend the power and potential of emerging Internet communication technologies by enacting legislation that supports a uniform national policy framework for technologies like VoIP. As someone who has advised two President’s on technology policy (both President Clinton and Obama), I understand how important it is to lay the right foundation for accelerating Internet opportunities.
It becomes even more apparent every day that the Internet has become perhaps the most transformative technology of our lifetimes. Over the past 15 years, the Internet has generated as much growth as the Industrial Revolution generated in 50 years. Internet innovation isn’t just a vital spark that improves our lives and transforms the way we work and live, it’s the economic dynamo that can create the new jobs and industries that are essential for winning the future.
And the best is yet ahead. With the cost of connecting devices falling, computer firepower rising, and the value of connectivity increasing — the nation is on the verge of another wave of Internet-driven opportunity. With pragmatic policy choices, the opportunities can be more pervasive, the technologies more transformative, and the consumer benefits more profound. That’s because consumers are driving a revolution in how they communicate with the Internet. They are looking for new ways to connect, collaborate, solve problems, and do things never before possible.
And at the forefront of this revolution are Internet based communication technologies. Simply put, they can be a force for competition, a platform for innovation, a driver for broadband deployment, and a vehicle for continued economic growth. But this newfound digital opportunity won’t happen by accident, nor continue by inertia. It will only happen if we make pragmatic policy choices about our communications future.
I commend California policymakers for being at the forefront of practical policy approaches for unleashing the potential of broadband enabled services. For example, in May of 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission decided not to regulate VoIP at the state level and closed its proceeding on the regulation of VoIP as the FCC put in place a national policy framework. Likewise, in order to accelerate the use of VoIP within the state government and better serve constituents, the state issued an Executive Order to, among other things, harness the power of VoIP to help the California government communicate more effectively and affordably.
To build on this legacy and harness the full power and potential that Internet based communication can deliver, the state has now reaffirmed its current policy by preventing the possibility of potentially conflicting rules on innovative Internet based service like VoIP. The prohibition on Internet based services regulation contained in SB 1161 is a critical step in helping Californians sustain this dynamic industry, bolster our economy, and enhance our innovation leadership for decades to come.
I commend California leaders for their leadership in helping more consumers take advantage of the full promise and potential that Internet based services can deliver.