FCC’s Internet Fast Lanes Should Outrun Net Neutrality Bias

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will issue proposed rules May 15, rules expected expected to allow premium pricing for Internet fast lanes alongside the lane we have now, for those willing to pay.

The open-access tech utopians aren’t amused; They see the Internet as some kind of magical public resource, as something that popped fully formed out of nowhere, and need never change. In the modern style, they have demands that others must fulfill, and want to set the terms for others’ property deployment.

The New York Times wrote,

Dividing traffic on the Internet into fast and slow lanes is exactly what the Federal Communications Commission would do with its proposed regulations, unveiled this week. And no amount of reassurances about keeping competition alive will change that fact.

There’s nothing wrong with many fast and many slow lanes on the “Splinternet” of tomorrow. We should have those without new FCC rules setting the terms as both content and infrastructure firms expand and can discipline one another. Anyone who stands in the way of that evolution is the threat to openness and information flow.

As ever escalating premium services in multimedia emerge, particularly in tomorrow’s world of 3D and holograms, today’s average speed will pale in comparison. A mere background hum.

That hum will resonate louder as the premium lane and lanes escalate, making everyone better off. All FCC is going to do is bog the process down.

No, neutrality advocates seek their own control over the Internet’s infrastructure and content, explicitly demanding common carriage (and presumably an end to investment). And the new rulemaking’s veneer of liberalization aside, the real problem is that FCC actually seeks broader new forms of regulation over Internet technologies as such, and was granted that authority in court early this year.

Granting reprieves with respect to neutrality will become FCC’s means of securing other controls like carriage of certain kinds of content. I hope we haven’t already forgotten FCC’s “Future of Media” proceeding and this year’s flap over FCC’s anti-1st-Amendment “newsroom survey.”

Nice premium service you got there; be a shame if something were to happen to it.

In spite of it all, FCC denies it’s abandoning neutrality. It will not adopt an anti-regulatory culture. And as James Gattuso notes, any new offerings will be subject to FCC scrutiny for “commercial reasonableness.”

Excessive economic regulation of infrastructure — not just in telecom but in power, water, energy and transportation — is misguided and even vicious in the modern age when all forms of infrastructure should be expanding by leaps and bounds. It is costing us billions, perhaps trillions, in lost wealth.

Neutrality is not neutral, rather it is damaging beyond measure.

Below are links to my extensive series Before Net Neutrality Eats The World that explores this theme in detail.

Part 1: Net Neutrality vs. Infrastructure Wealth
Part 2: An Alternative Case for Agency Neutrality
Part 3: The FCC’s Disdain for Markets
Part 4: FCC Order Creates Political Vulnerability for All Market Participants
Part 5: The Fallacies Motivating Net Neutrality
Part 6: Does “Market Failure” Demand Neutrality Regulation?
Part 7: Mandatory Dumb Pipes? But Why Sacrifice Genius?
Part 8: The Essential Elements of Non-Destructive Rulemaking
Part 9: How to Expand Consumer Choice and Access to Content
Part 10: Who’s Discriminating Online?
Part 11: The Inappropriateness of Compulsory Transparency
Part 12: Why Net Neutrality Threatens Homeland Security and Cybersecurity
Part 13: What FCC Should Do Now
Part 14: What Should Congress Do About Net Neutrality?
Part 15: Can We Please End This.