The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, January 11, 2022 1:00 am


Broadband regulation trails the technology

I read the Jan. 2 editorial about broadband with some degree of humor and chagrin.

I worked in the telecommunications industry to build a national and international network of telephone and data networks to match the burgeoning dependence on computer power to rule our lives. We sadly watched while the federal government stepped in to “improve” the system and dismantled it in 1984. Broadband existed then as part of that seamless network since the 1960s. In 1996, the Clinton administration opened existing networks to marketplace competition.

In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission changed the definition of broadband providers to unlicensed providers in an open market. I myself have been victim of the unregulated and overtly unscrupulous actions of one of the more than 2,200 unregulated providers of broadband services. In addition, local legacy telephone companies have been emasculated by these government actions and cannot or will not provide sufficient broadband services and are still confined to the regulatory oversight of public utility commissions, which only monitor the quality of voice services, not broadband.

The entire utility regulatory system is woefully behind the times of technology. The editorial does not mention these facts.

It is time our elected officials face reality that broadband services are not a commodity but a utility. The 24 Mbps/3 Mbps download and upload mentioned was a standard set by the FCC in 2007. It has never been enforced, and it is outdated by today's technology.

The rollout of cellular phone technology in the 1980s was done in an orderly, regulated fashion. It should be the same with broadband technologies.

Email your congressperson, if you can get online. 

Jeff Ott

South Whitley

Voters must help keep lawmakers on topic

If you thought the actions of the Indiana General Assembly were bad in 2021, you may be in for even more disappointment this year. And if you were not frustrated by any legislative matters from the previous session, you may not be paying enough attention. 

In 2021, the General Assembly reduced wetland protections, gave cell companies more power to install 50-foot 5G towers just about anywhere they want and funneled more public dollars to less accountable/equitable religious schools via vouchers. They conducted a sham redistricting process that solidified unfair, disproportionate power for the majority that does not reflect the political makeup of the state. And they wasted taxpayer funds debating misguided policy ideas related to COVID.

Plenty of more important, relevant and timely public policy issues could have been addressed, but were not. 

Kudos to the federal government for approving funding for states that allowed for meaningful investments in public education and infrastructure. While state lawmakers will take credit, remember it was federal lawmakers who actually made that funding available.

It sounds like the 2022 session may also focus on the wrong types of topics, such as divisive social issues, solutions to problems that don't actually exist and election-year ploys. We can and should expect better from our state legislators.

We owe it to ourselves and our state to pay closer attention to what is happening in Indianapolis. State-level decisions have a profound effect on our daily lives but too often leave out the voices and accountability of the electorate. Let's be more engaged this time around. Hopefully it will yield better decisions and a brighter future for Indiana.

Kody Tinnel

Fort Wayne

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