FCC Presses Forward With Destructive Net Neutrality Rules

Washington, D.C., December 1, 2010—This morning, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that the Commission will vote on net neutrality rules during its December 21 meeting. Telecom policy analysts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) urged FCC Commissioners to reject this unwise proposal, warning that mandating net neutrality would harm consumers and stifle network investment.

CEI Associate Director of Technology Studies Ryan Radia stated: “The net neutrality regime proposed today by the FCC will endanger competition, innovation, network investment, and consumer welfare. While it may not have the same destructive potential as the FCC’s abandoned Title II reclassification proposal, this attempt to bar ‘unreasonable’ discrimination by Internet providers will place the Commission in dubious legal territory, as today’s broadband market is extremely competitive and growing more so all the time.

“The timing of the proposed rulemaking is particularly worrisome. With a new session of Congress beginning early next month, why doesn’t Chairman Genachowski hold off on net neutrality until Congress has a chance to reexamine the Commission’s statutory authority? The FCC’s undue haste suggests a disdain for Congress’s authority that flies in the face of proper agency accountability. The next Congress should swiftly rein in this rogue regulatory body by stripping the Commission of the authority to impose net neutrality rules.”

CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews added: “In his speech this morning, Mr. Genachowski rightly evangelized the Internet’s virtues, but he didn’t utter one word about the institutions that made this success possible. Property rights, decentralized decision making, and regulatory restraint—not the FCC—enabled the Internet to flourish. The FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules will entrench the Internet as we know it today, with all of its shortcomings.

“If the Internet is to realize its full potential in decades to come, we will need far more robust networks—and many more of them. For regulators in 2010 to attempt to envision what these networks will look in the future is a fool’s errand. As today’s announcement illustrates, the FCC is a fundamentally backwards-looking institution. If the Commission were truly concerned about consumer welfare, rather than expanding its own turf, it would articulate the case for network experimentation. Instead, the commission treats the Internet’s infrastructure as some inexplicable gift that fell out of the sky.”

>>For more on net neutrality, see Wayne Crews’s comments to the FCC on the matter of open internet rulemaking: http://cei.org/outreach-regulatory-comments-and-testimony/net-neutrality-comment-fcc-net-neutrality-vs-bandwealth