Should The FCC Repeal Net Neutrality?

The more I learn the more I agree with the FCC.

Mike Townsend
Dec 13, 2017 · 3 min read

Tomorrow, the FCC will vote to kill Net Neutrality and undo the changes put in place by the previous FCC admin under Obama.

I came at this from a completely emotionless position. Net Neutrality is wrapped with so much political energy, I was cautious and slow to form an opinion.

Initially, if you asked me I would have deferred to opinions of the tech world, which overwhelmingly favor Net Neutrality. However, the more I listened and learned the perspective of both sides of the argument, the more I’m convinced FCC chairman Ajit Pai is right.

Whats actually happening?

In 2015 regulation was passed that reclassified internet service providers (ISPs), such as Comcast/Spectrum as “common carriers” under Title 2 of the Telecommunications Act, which subjects them to tough, utility-style regulation. The FCC is now planning to reclassify ISPs to Title 1, which would basically put things back the way they were prior to 2015.

It seems that everyone wants the same thing (a fast internet that doesn’t steal my personal information or throttle my connection), but disagrees how to get there.

What does it mean to favor Net Neutrality?

If you favor Net Neutrality (i.e. keep ISPs classified as Title 2 Utilities) you’re voting for more gov’t regulation on the internet. If you agree with the FCC (deregulating ISP’s) then you believe a better future for the internet is open and deregulated.

Many in favor of Net Neutrality say locations with low ISP competition (monopolies) want more regulation to protect people from ISPs blocking and throttling of websites, however in a free market economy, the long-term answer shouldn’t be to preemptively regulate, but rather to promote more competition.

What effect has increased regulation (Net Neutrality) had?

Title 2 (Net Neutrality) disproportionally hurts the smaller ISPs trying to compete in the market (public letters validate this), resulting in more powerful monopolies. Since title 2 in 2015, investment in faster networks has gone down for first time, while government power and monopolies have gotten stronger.

Also, under the proposed ruling, ISP’s must be transparent about blocking and throttling, and if there are complaints the FTC is empowered to take action under consumer protection laws to stop companies from violating rules (such as network prioritizing its own content).

Final thoughts

It’s strange to me that so many in tech support greater gov’t regulation to control the internet, this seems counter-intuitive to its central premise.

I worry many people reject the FCC’s ruling ad hominem with the narrative that it’s “Trump’s admin rolling back more of Obama’s work” — without understanding the facts, this seems quite sad and harmful.

I know this is a controversial opinion to hold, and I’m incredibly open-minded to changing it if I hear new convincing information.

Links to both sides to help you form your own opinion.

Podcast from FCC chairman Ajit Pai: http://reason.com/blog/2017/11/21/ajit-pai-net-neutrality-podcast

Seemingly non-biased debate platform: http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-the-fcc-repeal-net-neutrality

Letter from 1,000 startups favoring Net Neutrality: http://www.engine.is/startups-for-net-neutrality

Article supporting Net Neutrality: https://hackernoon.com/i-dont-care-about-net-neutrality-because-i-m-fine-letting-greedy-telecom-companies-decide-how-i-d1ae5e562a1

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