Somewhat inexplicably, Burger King recently released this short video on net neutrality. It’s likely just an appeal to millennials and it’s not all that amusing, but it does (albeit inadvertently) illustrate a great point about why heavy-handed net neutrality regulations on Internet service providers aren’t needed.
The video portrays Burger King offering paid prioritization for its Whoppers—that is, higher prices for faster service—and that outrages customers. In its real-life competitive environment, of course, Burger King doesn’t offer paid prioritization for its burgers. Is this because Congress decided that there needs to be a FFFC (Federal Fast Food Commission) to make it illegal?
Burger King doesn’t prioritize preparation of certain customers’ hamburgers in exchange for higher prices because they know their customers would hate it and eat elsewhere. Instead of needing regulations with harmful unintended consequences, the marketplace gives consumers what they want.
The best protection for consumers is more competition. With a McDonald’s across the street, Burger King is going to give customers what they want. The same is true of Verizon and AT&T if there are Internet connection options for consumers. Conversely, net neutrality regulations (only in place for two years before being repealed last month) reduced broadband investment and erected barriers to entry for new firms with increased red tape, costly reporting obligations, and regulatory uncertainty.
As an aside, the federal government itself engages in paid prioritization daily with expedited passport service, TSA Pre-Check, and priority mail delivery. If Burger King would like to make the world a better place, they should produce a video about what buying a Whopper would be like if the U.S. Postal Service or the IRS were in charge.
Read more about the issue at Net Neutrality 101.