The FCC Threat to Kill Net Neutrality

This point is, this precisely and exactly what the FCC is proposing, and the reality of the death of neutrality for all traffic carried on the Internet. Not only is it legal, it is exactly what will result.

The only action the FCC should take is to reclassify ISPs as common carriers, which is what they are. If they want to charge for content they produce and provide also, well, fine and dandy, but speed of access to their content and ALL OTHER CONTENT, must be equal and without any distinction of alternate speed tracks or paths.

The very definition of the Internet is a network of multiple independent networks and computers, all sharing data and carrying traffic with equal access and speed, throughout the entire network.

If what the FCC is now proposing is allowed to happen, it is literally the death knell of the free and open Internet, which has fostered the greatest revolution in information sharing and freedom to communicate, and for businesses to innovate and create new technologies and means of delivery of services since the invention of the printing press.

The FCC intends to try and turn control of the flow of information back over to the corporate oligarchy, who are smarting at their loss of control. The see the rapid oncoming demise of controlled delivery media like TV networks and newspapers, and they are desperate to regain control of the delivery media.

That us the central theme and motive in this effort.

If you are not fighting this tooth and nail, then don’t come around whining when everything is back in control of your corporate overlords, and it is impossible for a site like DailyKos or even the next Google to gain traction and achieve success and prominence.

That game will be over, and we will have lost all the promise of the Internet for the freedom of information, and ultimately for the betterment of human society worldwide.

Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor, argues in favor of regulating broadband like a utility.

Imagine that a private company owned the only bridge into Manhattan over the Hudson River. It isn’t hard to see how that would put the owner in a position to extract cash from the rest of the economy, almost like a tax. Another, more subtle effect is the favoring of some businesses over others, distorting competition and innovation in other parts of the economy.

Broadband operators today own the effective bridges to the American home, and they have shown an inclination to use that power. Recently, they have induced direct competitors such as Netflix to agree to pay fees to ensure smoother streaming of content to customers, pegging the payments as “contributions” to their networks.

The Right Balance

Classifying broadband as a “common carrier” under the 1934 Telecommunication Act would allow the FCC to use the full extent of its authority to prevent broadband providers from extracting tolls that damage the broader economy. It also would allow the FCC to reinstate the “net neutrality” rules that courts have recently struck down.

That said, excessive regulation can stagnate an industry, and it’s important not to go overboard. There has to be a balance between protecting the public and leaving the industry room to grow. “Open Internet” rules strike that balance: They prevent broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against certain types of content, while still allowing the extraordinary profit margins that reward the initial investment.

Some believe, based more on faith than logic, that competition will always flourish if government gets out of the way. If only that were true. In fact, in high fixed-cost industries, the market yields unregulated monopolies that extract a cost on the entire economy.

It is foolish to pretend broadband forms some kind of magical exception to the historic problem posed by private ownership of the economy’s essential infrastructures. We need to remember that monopoly profits ultimately function as a tax on the rest of the economy, and act accordingly.

Should the U.S. Regulate Broadband Internet Access as a Utility?


Author: Ron