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Whoops! Berkman study shows “open access” reduces broadband consumption

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Whoops! Berkman study shows “open access” reduces broadband consumption

A paper by George S. Ford at the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Public Policy Studies shows that a correct interpretation of a study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University is that “open access” does not stimulate broadband consumption — as its authors claim — but reduces it.

Sound empirical research of treatments and outcomes requires the researcher to ignore the observed outcomes in formulating the hypothesis tests and choosing the empirical methodologies. Yet, the Berkman Study peeks at the outcome and then tries to formulate some procedure to attribute observed differences to one factor or another. In other words, throughout the Berkman Study, the authors are separating the sick rats from the well ones and then assigning the treatment ex post. This scheme is taboo among research scientists, since such outcomes-driven analyses are likely to render biased results, both in a statistical sense and by the introduction of researcher bias.

The Berkman study was prepared in coordination with the FCC. “Smart Cop” Julius Genachowski of the FCC apparently believes both that facts and data justify more FCC oversight of a “dynamic network” and that if the FCC is guided by facts and data bureaucratic mistakes can be avoided.
So far facts and data prove that “open access,” aka network neutrality regulation, will impair broadband adoption, an inconvenient truth that civil rights groups have been citing.

The groups conversely contend that “Many feel that these [pro-net neutrality] organizations are pushing a regulatory perspective that would regressively shift the costs of bandwidth onto middle- and low-income consumers,” and in their letter describe the net neutrality advocates in question as “elite digital organizations” who “peddle” “destructive racial rhetoric.”