FCC Takes on Net Neutrality

Washington, D.C., June 15, 2007—The Federal Communications Commission is currently accepting public comments on its proposal to regulate pricing on broadband networks, commonly referred to as "net neutrality." The Competitive Enterprise Institute is advising the Commission to drop the foray into broadband regulation entirely, emphasizing the predictable outcome of slower networks and fewer new innovations.

"Cable and DSL speeds are a trickle compared to the Niagara needed tomorrow, before even addressing the security and delivery requirements vastly beyond today’s capabilities," said Wayne Crews, Vice President and Director of Technology Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. "Freezing today’s Internet into a regulated public utility via net neutrality’s price-and-entry regulation would obviously slow investment and innovation—meaning fewer new companies, networking deals, products and technologies—but will ultimately hurt content companies too."

While many neutrality activists fear that not regulating network owners will leave the Internet at the mercy of a few large companies, much of the activists’ financial support itself comes from large corporations. Moreover, the source of the problems that worry them is often not a lack of competition per se, but the many legal and regulatory barriers to wider broadband deployment related to franchise, zoning, and environmental concerns.

"Net neutrality advocates’ premise is that infrastructure companies should not control content, but that it’s perfectly acceptable for content companies, in conjunction with government, to control infrastructure. The implications of entrenching this idea further in law and policy at this stage of communications history are extremely serious," said Crews. "This regulatory proceeding undermines the aggressive communications liberalization campaign actually in the interest of both sides, and in the consumer interest. Success in inflicting the ‘infrastructure socialism’ embodied in net neutrality would set in place the machinery for endless interventions, not just against the current targets but against today’s advocates."

Full text of comments available in PDF.