Sunday, April 30, 2017

Make the Net Neutral Again

From The WSJ. Excerpts:
"Mr. Pai in a speech at Washington’s Newseum sketched out a plan to untangle the 2015 “net neutrality” rules that classified the internet as a public utility under the Communications Act, a law carbon-dated to the 1930s. The rules give the FCC broad authority to dictate whether broadband practices are “reasonable.” Liberal pressure groups like Public Knowledge and Free Press said that nefarious cable companies might someday, somewhere block websites or slow browsing. Years later, no one can drum up an example."

"the agency will vote in May on a proposal to designate the internet as an information service, the status quo of two years ago. The Supreme Court upheld this “light touch” framework in 2005, and Mr. Pai explained in his speech that government nonintervention helped spur $1.5 trillion of private investment that built high-speed internet pipes.

But then came the regulatory uncertainty of a government takeover of the internet. Between 2014 and 2016, Mr. Pai notes, capital expenditures on broadband from America’s 12 largest internet-service providers dropped 5.6%, or $3.6 billion"

"Among the losers are rural areas where profit margins are low: For instance, a provider that serves about 475 customers in northern Illinois recently delayed plans to rev up network speeds to 20 Mbps from 3 Mbps."

"Mr. Pai proposes to eliminate a 2015 rule known as the internet conduct standard. This is an arbitrary directive that he says gave the agency “a roving mandate to micromanage the internet,” sometimes going after wireless companies for the high sin of providing popular services. FCC launched a probe into plans that allow customers to stream unlimited videos or music."

"“bright-line rules” from 2015 that include a ban on “fast lanes” for content or “paid prioritization.” That ban forbids providers from charging more for carrying more content, which makes as much sense as telling FedEx that the company can offer two-day shipping but not overnight delivery."

"the government walls off future innovation by stipulating that cat videos must be treated the same as telemedical X-rays or Amber alert notifications. The irony is that Google and Facebook already offer faster delivery for services like “instant articles” that appear at 10 times the normal speed."

"The FTC’s enforcement power has long obviated the need for an FCC net-neutrality scheme."

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