SCARBOROUGH — Last month’s repeal of the Obama administration’s Title II regulations – also referred to as “net neutrality” – was almost universally met with praise from Republicans. However, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins was the first Republican lawmaker to oppose it. While “net neutrality” makes for an innocuous-sounding slogan, the reality of the 2015 Federal Communications Commission rules was much more sinister.

Behind the news release, and beneath the framing of an “open internet,” lies Title II, a regulatory model developed for the old rotary phone system of 1934 – when there was only a government-created monopoly telephone network. Under this government system, the phone network saw little to no innovation, accomplishing one simple task of connecting a voice call. For those who even remember the phone of the 1980s, you will recall that the introduction of call waiting was the best invention since sliced bread.

Fast forward and think of all the innovation that has happened with internet technology. How the ability to connect via mobile has infinitely improved over the past decade, and how there are countless activities you can now perform online in an instant. This is because Title II didn’t apply to broadband internet – that is, until 2015, when the FCC under Barack Obama voted along party lines to upend a model that brought us today’s modern internet experience.

Imposing Title II on broadband internet is one of the largest impediments to more internet access, network deployment and broadband availability. With the baggage of Title II regulations and the uncertainty of how they would be applied in the future, investment in internet infrastructure was at risk. In the wake of Title II, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, internet service providers reduced their investments by about 12 percent.

In the case of Maine, that is simply investment we cannot afford to lose. According to a 2016 FCC report, 17 percent of Maine residents living in rural areas do not have access to high-speed broadband.

The position of Title II net neutrality proponents is especially ironic. The voices who have ardently supported the 2015 rules are the same ones who complain about a lack of available broadband providers, particularly in remote areas. Smarter, more flexible regulation enables network investment and expansion. This increases competition and choice, and competition creates more options for consumers and drives down price.

As FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a speech before the commission voted to repeal Title II, the top complaint from consumers is “that they don’t have enough access and competition. Ironically, Title II has made that concern even worse by reducing investment in building and maintaining high-speed networks.”

The widespread adoption of new technology not only ensures more choice for consumers, but also is necessary for the state to remain competitive. The Obama administration’s Title II rules would have slowed the state’s ability to adopt the next phase of wireless technology, known as 5G, which is widely viewed as a viable substitute for wireline communications, offering gigabit speeds. Maine has the highest percentage of rural residents in the nation, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting in 2010 that 61.3 percent of the state’s population lives in rural areas.

With the proliferation of 5G, those living in rural areas will have access to new high-speed wireless internet connections.

Ultimately, Congress can enact legislation addressing concerns related to actual “net neutrality” – no blocking and no throttling – while reducing the grip of the federal government over our communications networks by avoiding the application of Title II. Furthermore, any legislation should also apply to giant internet companies that are often caught in anti-competitive behavior or censorship, companies whose actions were not addressed by the FCC “net neutrality” rules.

As a representative of Maine, the nation’s most rural state, Sen. Collins should support bipartisan legislation that not only protects real net neutrality, but also enables the expansion of access to information for all citizens. Hampering broadband’s spread will serve only to undermine Maine and its citizens.