Net Neutrality Fight Continues Today

Washington , D.C., April 26, 2007—So-called “Net Neutrality” advocates today commemorate one year of organized advocacy of legislation to regulate broadband network speeds.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute reaffirms its opposition to such rules and reiterates its support of a competitive infrastructure marketplace. 

“We all can probably agree that we want tomorrow's Internet at the speed of light, not at the speed of government,” said CEI Director of Technology Policy Wayne Crews . “But a better starting point is to appreciate that we have no broadband today: cable and DSL are a trickle compared to the Niagara needed tomorrow. Freezing today's Internet into a regulated public utility via net neutrality's inevitable price-and-entry regulation would be the worst possible move, slowing investment and innovation, meaning fewer new companies, networking deals, products and technologies. ”

“Activists fear that not regulating network owners will leave the Internet at the mercy of a few large companies when, in fact, the activists' backers are themselves large companies. Moreover, often the problem is not that there's no competition, but that it's illegal or cumbersome thanks to franchise, zoning, and environmental barriers, or compartmentalization of our great network industries (electricity, water, rail, sewer, communications) into regulatory silos. Network liberalization should be the emphasis of both sides: Instead, the paradoxical result is that regulators and activists think we need “neutrality” on what, in reality, is sub-par infrastructure.

“Moreover, lessons from what critics disparage as ‘access tiering' will allow us to better deal with spam, cyber-security, privacy, and piracy—all of which stem from inadequate ability to authenticate users and price online network usage. We need, not neutrality, but a plethora of overlapping wired and wireless communications networks. The result should be a better, cheaper and more robust version of the openness that today's advocates of net neutrality seek.”

A short video summary of the net neutrality issue, The Simpleton's Guide to Net Neutrality , is available online . For more on the future of telecom policy, see CEI's study Communications without Commissions: A National Plan for Reforming Telecom Regulation .

Contact: Wayne Crews, [email protected] , Director of Technology Policy, 202-331-2274.