Net Neutrality

Terrible net neutrality provision in latest Senate draft

The latest Senate draft telecom rewrite, issued Friday, includes page after page of weird new language on net neutrality. The Separation of Powers Doctrine provides for Supreme Court — not Congressional — interpretation of the Constitution. Yet Section 904 of the new draft includes two paragraphs describing how the First Amendment shall apply to the Internet. In a priceless example of an exception-that-swallows-the-rule, the first paragraph begins with “no Federal, State, or local government may…” and concludes with “…unless specifically authorized by law.” Section 904 would arguably immunize any action of the legislature regardless of First Amendment implications and therefore seems utterly unconstitutional. (Does the Christian Coalition realize this provision would prevent cellphone providers from enforcing their extensive policies designed Read More ›

George Gilder Podcast on Net Neutrality

George Gilder makes the following observations about net neutrality in a podcast interview with Scott Cleland at, a subsidiary of Precursor. “Net Neutrality is just another layer of lawyers. It’s nothing else.” “We’ve tried regulation, and it didn’t work.” “There will not be an adequate broadband economy in the United States if this current regulatory approach continues. Its not the regional Bells who decide [investment in broadband networks]. Its Wall Street who decides []. Wall Street will decide whether they’re willing to support the stocks of the regional Bells as they make these risky and far-reaching investments of scores of billions of dollars in deploying fiber to homes and neighborhoods. If Wall Street says no, they won’t be able Read More ›


From today’s session of the House Judiciary Committee, during which net neutrality legislation was approved by a vote of 20 to 13: * * * “The very same people who are advocating for net neutrality have been telling us to stay out of Internet issues. It’s a bad idea to legislative in this area, they said.” –Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (D-NY) * * * “Should we attempt to set out rules of a rapidly evolving market before we know where it is going? I think it would be smarter to leave this to the courts to adjudicate on a case by case basis.” –Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Shallow and misinformed debate on net neutrality

The House Judiciary Committee has approved H.R. 5417, the “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006” mostly along party lines. The committee’s Democrats and a few Republicans voted to expand government oversight of the marketplace, and, specifically, to require that consumers bear the full cost of maintaining and upgrading the Internet, rather than permitting telephone and cable companies from spreading these costs amongst consumers, vendors and advertisers. This isn’t how television became a cultural phenomenon — that required billions of dollars in advertising — nor, in all likelihood, will it allow the Internet to reach its full potential. The debate in the committee was exceptionally shallow and misinformed. No one, for example, asked whether broadband will have to be priced Read More ›

1,120 gpbs = $560 per mo. Who’s gonna pay?

Here is one estimate of the cost to the consumer of upgrading the Internet to handle video and high-definition video if the cost is borne primarily by consumers. Which is what would happen under net neutrality regulation. The real issue is where will the big bucks come from to create an Internet capable of handling the services now envisioned, let alone those not yet dreamed up. BellSouth’s Chief Architect Henry Kafka told an audience in March that a typical broadband user today consumes about two gigabytes of data a month, at a network cost of $1. Once TV has gone high-definition and on-demand, a typical user will consume about 1,120 gigabytes a month at a cost of $560 (that’s in Read More ›

The Stevens bill

This week Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) introduced comprehensive telecom reform legislation which, as Adam Thierer notes, is a 135-page monster, represents a counterproductive obsession on the part of some policymakers over the smallest details of communications policy and doesn’t tear down any of the old regulatory paradigms that it sould. That said, the proposal would move the country in a positive direction in several respects. Net Neutrality — Unlike the House bill, which grants the FCC specific new authority to enforce the commission’s net neutrality principles — and which is guaranteed to lead to questionable enforcement proceedings and perhaps litigation between grasping and delusional competitors — the Stevens bill wisely requires the FCC to merely keep a watchful Read More ›


“So often we legislate in these areas when something is evolving [and] we legislate wrongly. The technology just goes around it. My view is, let’s wait and see. Let’s make sure there’s a problem before we legislate.” Senator Gordon H. Smith (R-OR), on the absence of a net neutrality provision in telecom legislation he plans to introduce for Senate consideration “As a very small content provider (editor of Politech), I’d presumably benefit in the short run from Net neutrality. But I spent over a decade in Washington, DC, more than enough time to realize that government failure is more of a problem than market failure, and to become healthily skeptical of giving the FCC new powers to regulate the Internet.” Read More ›

Don’t Fall for Net Neutrality

Separating content and conduit by force — “net neutrality” — unnecessarily exalts regulation and elevates bureaucrats over market forces. The million-word re-regulation of the industry that was the Telecom Act of 1996 resulted in the Great Telecom and Technology Crash of 2000-2003. Net neutrality risks a replay of this carnival of lawyers, micro-mis-management by apparatchik, price controls, the socialization of infrastructure and the screeching halt of innovation and investment in the “last-mile” local loop. For years the doomsayers have said telecom will contrive content-conduit plays like the cable industry, that they will thereby reap profits from broadband content and that it will be the end of civilization as we know it. They forget that content and conduit are naturally separate. Read More ›

Net Neutrality Not a Republican Principle

Would Ronald Reagan have supported net neutrality? A Republican congressman tried to infer it is consistent with the Reagan legacy because, after all, His Justice Deptartment prosecuted AT&T. Let’s set the record straight: Reagan opposed the breakup of AT&T. He reluctantly allowed it to proceed under pressure from zealots at the Antitrust Division. Reagan’s personal views are well documented. See, e.g., “Reagan: In His Own Hand,” by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson (eds.) at 316-17. It includes the following transcript of a 1979 radio address by Ronald Reagan: “I hear the govt. is going to or already has sued the phone company again. It makes you wonder how they have the nerve…. “What with busy signals, wrong Read More ›

New House Draft Offers Middle Ground

House Energy & Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), Ranking Member John Dingell (D-MI) and others worked hard to get a broad bipartisan agreement on telecom reform. That effort failed over some absurd demands of greedy local officials, high tech companies and “consumer advocates” who act as if telecom and cable vendors are nonprofit agencies. Such expectations are hardly surprising, since telecom and cable vendors basically require government approval to innovate their services. A new proposal bearing the imprimatur of three Republicans — Chairman Barton, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) — as well as Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) provides some welcome middle ground. Any provider of video services could obtain a national franchise that would be subject Read More ›