CEI Applauds FCC Vote to Start Roll Back of Internet Regulations

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to begin the regulatory process to roll back the agency’s 2015 net neutrality rules. Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) experts argue the FCC’s net neutrality regulations would have adverse impacts on American consumers, particularly those in rural and low-income areas, and limit competition, curtail innovation, and dissuade much-needed private investment in broadband infrastructure. 

Statement on the future of the net neutrality issue from CEI Research Fellow and Regulatory Counsel Ryan Radia

“The net neutrality debate should be about policy and what’s best for consumers, not about politics. This is why Congress needs to pass legislation clarifying that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate the Internet. Otherwise, a future FCC will likely be able to reverse any rule that results from proceedings like the agency launched today.”

Key points on how the federal government should approach the net neutrality issue from CEI’s latest report, “A Net Neutrality Primer: Should the Internet Be Regulated Like Ma Bell?”.

  • No credible case exists for universal net neutrality regulation. There may be reason for the occasional intervention to deal with situations where ISPs have enjoyed unfair advantages owing to past exclusive franchises and other such arrangements. Banning entire business models hardly constitutes “openness.”
  • Congress should pass legislation freeing up the electromagnetic spectrum, which is the lifeblood of mobile broadband. With more spectrum available to market participants, new wireless ISPs could emerge, while existing wireless ISPs could offer faster speeds and more lenient usage policies.
  • The FCC established a Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee in April 2017 to study burdens on broadband deployment and recommend to the FCC how to eliminate them. Governments at all levels should eradicate barriers to deploying wireline infrastructure, a process that has been rendered artificially costly by municipal, state, and federal regulations.
  • If harmful practices occur, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have concurrent authority to enforce laws such as the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Such laws are probably not necessary, as fully functioning markets can solve the problem of concentration, but as long they as exist, they offer an alternative means for government intervention in broadband disputes.
  • And if the FCC insists on maintaining a role as an Internet regulator, addressing net neutrality disputes on a case-by-case basis would be far better than the prescriptive rules contained in the 2015 order.

More from CEI on tech and telecom policy can be found in Free to Prosper: A Pro-Growth Agenda for the 115th Congress