Clinton calls for end to Internet provider monopolies in first major policy speech

In laying out her economic plan for the first time Monday, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called for increased federal investment in faster broadband networks.

If elected president, she said, she will “make sure there is a greater diversity of providers so consumers have more choice.”

Clinton, who introduced successful legislation for increased investment in rural broadband while she was a senator, laid out her latest vision for the United States’ economic future in a major policy address at the New School in New York City on Monday morning.

Clinton’s points on America’s broadband woes were part of a larger promise of increased federal investment in national infrastructure, likening faster Internet to better airports, railways, roads, bridges, and ports.

By pointing the spotlight on the U.S. broadband industry, Clinton is following Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who wrote a letter last week to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recommending an investigation into American Internet service providers in the face of rising prices, price disparity, lack of choice, and poor service for consumers.

“With increasing concentration in the industry, there are now de facto telecommunications monopolies in the United States,” the senators wrote. “For example, just 37 percent of Americans have more than one option for high-speed broadband providers.”

Sanders and Clinton are the two frontrunners in the Democratic race for the 2016 Presidential nomination.

The letter from the senators specifically criticized the proposed merger between Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications as increasing the concentration toward monopolies in the broadband industry even further.

Although Clinton hasn’t gone into very much detail on her position here, the brief mention of the issue in a major policy speech is significant in that it appears she’s increasingly aligning with Sanders’ position.

While the two most visible Democrats in the country right now appear to be agreement, some Republican candidates are taking a different tack. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said earlier this year that he doesn’t “want to see regulation of the Internet.”

Overall, however, the issue of Broadband monopolies has yet to break across the Republican side of the 2016 race.

Photo via Rona Proudfoot / flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.