L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, a longtime proponent of open internet, welcomed the Federal Communications Commission's decision yesterday on net neutrality.
The Mayor's Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Peter Marx joined Take Two to discuss what the FCC's decision will mean for Los Angeles.
Why is net neutrality important to the Mayor's office?
"Not only did the internet start here, with a message that went from here up North, but in addition, the city is composed of people who create content that is distributed across the world. Our movies, our TV shows, all go through the Internet to screens literally all over the world. And then in addition of course we have this thriving start-up community. And all of these people and all of us need unhindered access to the Internet for the distribution, well, of our livelihoods."
I don't think I'm over stating it when I say a lot of people in Los Angeles gripe about their broadband options. Should consumers feel happy about the FCC's decision here in Los Angeles?
"Well, I think there's sort of two different components to it. There were two FCC decisions that happened yesterday. One was around removing some state laws that actually inhibited the production of things like municipal broadband, and the second decision was around net neutrality.
And both decisions have an impact upon the ability for people to provide broadband. You know, we look to the former one, it doesn't really affect us. But it's kind of a statement, if you will, that the FCC is certainly laying the framework that everybody can offer municipal broadband. The second thing is, is that with the network neutrality side, we just want to make sure that on the other end of the pipes, that everybody has free and unhindered access."
Should net neutrality stick, how do you think it could change things for disgruntled customers, people who are upset with the way things are now?
"It probably won't have much of a direct impact. It's really the other side of the pipe. Meaning that the input side of the Internet, as opposed to the output side... We want to make sure that you're able to consume whatever it is that you want to see without fast lanes."
How do you view the digital divide in the city? Because the Internet is a very powerful tool, as vital as anything else. There's still people in the city though that do not have regular and reliable access.
"The digital divide is of huge importance to us. If you listen to some numbers, the county of Los Angeles actually ranks second from the bottom in the state in terms of Internet usage. And we have... perhaps as many as 30 or 35 percent of people in the City of Los Angeles, in the County of Los Angeles, who don't use the Internet, don't have access to the Internet. And so addressing that digital divide is hugely important."
A lot of people don't have the disposable income to afford to get Internet in their home, their apartment, their condo. So how do you address the affordability of the Internet?
"So yesterday with the FCC, there were two decisions, and both of them were driven a little bit by the frustration I think a lot of people have which is that there's only one or two or maybe at most three different providers anywhere. And so... what we have seen, when people enter the market, when companies enter a market... prices drop and speeds go up.
And so I think it's very important for everybody to be in a place where there are multiple operators and multiple ways of getting onto the Internet. Some folks say, 'Well, cellular is going to get less expensive. You'll be able to go to one of the wireless operators and be able to get high speed internet that way.' We certainly hope that's true, but then in addition, we also want to see on the wired side... that those speeds increase and that the prices drop."