09/01/2010 04:37 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Thoughtful Breath of Fresh Air on Talks to Protect the Internet

In just a few short years, the Internet's growth has been truly astonishing. In the United States today there are more than 2 billion daily Internet searches -- 20 times more than just ten years ago; roughly 250 billion daily emails vs. 12 billion then; and 10 billion iTunes downloads today and 150 million Facebook users compared to zero ten years ago. All told, the average American spends roughly 18 hours a week online.

The Internet has transformed the way we work, play, communicate, learn and so much more. It has helped people from Iran, China and beyond share their stories of oppression and pleas for assistance across the world. And it has brought us closer together. In fact, according to Harvard Business School, nearly one in five of all marriages today in the U.S. are the result of a bride and groom meeting online.

As Americans -- the people who created and invested in this incredibly dynamic system -- it is vitally important that we get the policies right when it comes to ensuring the Internet continues to flourish. The most integral of those policies is preserving an open Internet (also known as "network neutrality") that ensures continued innovation, freedom of expression, commerce and investment.

In recent months, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), industry stakeholders, academics, public advocacy groups and individuals have participated in the ongoing debate about how to protect an open Internet. Many different parties have characterized these talks in a variety of different ways but we believe there has been important progress made in an incredibly complex series of issues. We commend the parties for their dedication to this process because there has been much progress in achieving agreement about the need for an open Internet that does not block, discriminate or prioritize content and applications and is reasonably and transparently managed. But there is still more work to be done -- especially in the context of how to manage the relationship between these open Internet principles and other services offered in the last mile or over mobile wireless devices.

The FCC has now announced that the agency is seeking further public comment on issues related to "specialized" services and mobile broadband. They have set a 30-day comment period in this important matter.

We believe this extension of time shows both wisdom and humility. There is no quick and easy answer to these complex challenges and there should not be a rush to a conclusion before a strong consensus is reached. This extension also recognizes the important reality that in both the short-term and long-term, technologies change and that some level of evolutionary rulemaking is required.

Again, this pause for a deep breath is needed to get this framework done right. This infrastructure will define our nation's future. At stake in this debate are valued consumer protections, innovation, investment, and future growth opportunity.

TechNet supports the growth and vitality of a safe, secure and open Internet, and smart public policies that deliver consumer access to Internet content and services via next generation broadband deployment.

Now let's all take a deep breath, roll up our sleeves and get this right.

Rey Ramsey is President and CEO of TechNet and Chairman of One Economy.