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  • The Chicken Littles of Broadband

    Is the Internet in clear and present danger? Yes, say proponents of neutrality regulation of the Internet. In a speech last month calling for FCC neutrality regulation, Chairman Julius Genachowski stopped short of quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes, but did all he could to paint a dire picture of the Internet’s future: “This is not about protecting the Internet against imaginary dangers,” he said. If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late.”

    The warning evoked a certain sense of deja vu, and for good reason. As Link Hoewing of Verizon pointed out the other day, proponents of neutrality regulation “have been yelling ‘fire’ in the movie theater ever since 1999,” when they decried the trend toward cable firms providing exclusive ISP service on broadband networks, saying that the move would result in “more price increases and fewer choices for consumers and content providers alike.”

    The end has been nigh many times since. In 2003, when a court upheld the FCC’s decision not to regulate broadband as a telecommunications service, Commissioner Michael Copps said “the Internet may be dying,” glumly predicting that if the Commission continued its free-market policies, “we will look back, shake our heads and wonder whatever happened to that open, dynamic and liberating Internet that once we knew.”

    Not to be outdone, in 2006, as the debate over tiered pricing raged, Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy also warned of the “end of the Internet,” stating that “without proactive intervention, the values and issues that we care about–civil rights, economic justice, the environment and fair elections–will be further threatened by this push for corporate control”.

    The predictions of the Internet’s death, however, were not just exaggerated, they were wrong. Monumentally wrong. As Hoewing points out, the entry-level price for broadband service was $50 per month in 2001, dropped to $33 in 2004, and to $25 in 2007. And more people are using it — seven of ten households were still using dial-up in 2004, today only 1 in 10 do. And typical broadband speeds have more than doubled in that time.

    Genachowski may have had these facts in mind when, in last month’s speech, he said: “This is about preserving and maintaining something profoundly successful and ensuring that it’s not distorted or undermined”.

    Well put. And that’s exactly why we must not impose new and unneeded regulation on the Internet.

    Cross-posted at techliberation.org

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to The Chicken Littles of Broadband

    1. Freedomof Speech TX says:

      We should be increasing funding and regulations to hunt down and prosecute the criminals within and without the government who are ripping off taxapayer dollars.

      They can start with Medicare and ACORN which will keep them busy for years.

      This is just another attack on a means of communication to get out the truth.

    2. Jeff Chester, Washin says:

      Mr. Gattuso appears to have suddenly become naive when it comes to public policy issues. He should be informing his readers that it is only because of the advocacy, legal, and press work since the late 1990's by consumer groups that the cable and telephone companies have not been able to deploy their business model designed to turn the open Internet into a form of monopolistic cable TV. This threat is quite real, as anyone who spends time following the industry knows. That's why FCC action is required.

    3. Bobbie Jay says:

      No government ignorance take-over in private business. government is wasting time and money when they should be disciplined to their own business and stay out of everybody else's. The people need more government reprimand since they won't hold themselves accountable.

      Since the American government decided to conduct their governance with unaccountability, deceit, fraud, corruption, illusion, abuse of power, threats with a variety of obvious consequences of multiple crisis' by government's choice of decision making to the people and so blatantly, there is a demand for the president to write, in empathy of a teenager so all Americans can understand, this American government's ROLE AND PURPOSE to the people of America! It is owed to American born and immigrants who have become accustomed to the strength of the American way who do not want to be weakened by the Obama way of government-dependency.

    4. Pingback: Net Neutrality Too Difficult For Government « 36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

    5. James Stevenson, Atl says:

      Unfortunately, free market principles alone will not build a better Internet. US consumers pay some of the highest broadband rates in the world thanks to regional duopolies and misdirected regulation. It is a sad day when Herritage experts serve as ready apologists for oligopolistic cable and Bell companies. No wonder the US slipped from #1 to #13 (OECD) in national broadband performance during the Bush 2.0 years.

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