Democracy & Technology Blog Perspectives on net neutrality

The FCC is expected to issue a proposed network neutrality regulation next week, and in a column entitled “The Coming Mobile Meltdown,” Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. observes

Unless we miss our guess, this dynamic is about to rudely change the subject from net neutrality to a shortage of wireless capacity to meet enthusiastic consumer demand.
* * * *usage-based pricing could potentially pull the rug out from under the business models of Google and other Web powers, whose services now appear “free” to customers. Imagine if broadcast TV had charged by the minute. Your dad would have turned off the set during the commercials.

In “A Rule Too Far,” Thomas G. Donlan points out

Chairman Genachowski will find he is caught between giant grindstones. On one side are the phone companies and wireless companies and cable companies, wearing their Internet-service-provider hats. They are interested in revenue, and they are interested in serving the majority of their customers by slowing down communication speeds for a few voracious content providers who hog the bandwidth while paying the same as others who use it less.
Their simple answer could be to charge the content providers for expedited service, and charge more to those who burden scarce bandwidth in the last mile.
If bandwidth is not scarce, higher charges will not stick. If it is scarce and expensive, new cables will be laid until prices come down.
On the other side are Microsoft , Google and entertainment distributors. They are united in the belief that only content owners should charge for content. Transmission should be a flat fee. On their side, for the time being, are the consumer-protection activists, who believe that everything should be free. They are willing to start with the service providers; they’ll get around to content in good time, starting with other peoples’ property.

And in “Why Government Regulation for Internet Service Providers Is Bad News,” Anton Wahlman notes

Our government has settled on a new formula for regulating industry, and they are applying it to one industry after another. While they haven’t yet made it to the restaurant business, at this pace we may not have to wait too many years for the following to happen: Every restaurant is mandated to only offer food in the form of an all-you-can-eat buffet. The government decides on what needs to be served on this buffet, at a minimum, in order to be compliant. No restaurant is allowed to deny a customer service, and all customers must be charged the same price. After all, eating is no longer one half of an exchange of private property, but a “right” entitling a consumer to his neighbor’s property.

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.