Should We Regulate the Internet? CEI Argues FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules Threaten Freedom, Innovation and Harm Consumers

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Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a report that makes the case for repealing the Federal Communications Commission’s unnecessary net neutrality regulations, which could have adverse impacts on American consumers, particularly those in rural and low-income areas. According to the report, the FCC’s Internet regulations limit competition, curtail innovation, and dissuade much-needed private investment in broadband infrastructure.

This week, the FCC is scheduled to hold a meeting to discuss possible changes to its net neutrality rules, which designate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as “common carriers” instead of “information services.” This new designation allows the federal government to regulate ISPs as public utilities, like phone or cable companies, which they are not. The FCC is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at repealing these 2015 rules on May 18, 2017.

CEI Research Fellow and Regulatory Counsel Ryan Radia and Adjunct Fellow Jessica Melugin argue that eliminating these rigid and harmful regulations on Internet providers would protect Internet freedom and create a more consumer-friendly telecom sector.

“Consumers should be aware that net neutrality regulations will result in higher prices and less innovation for their broadband services. So, if it ain’t broke, don’t break it,” said Melugin. “Just look at Europe’s broadband market. It has long been regulated like a utility, and they now have half as much investment in wireline service as the United States, and their average mobile broadband speeds are 30 percent slower than what Americans enjoy.”

According to the report, Washington’s hands-off approach has allowed a vibrant, open, and free Internet to flourish for decades. But, over the past decade, the FCC has sought to transform itself into an Internet regulator in spite of a clear directive from Congress to the contrary.

“The FCC’s net neutrality rules are the opposite of what American consumers want and need online and there is little evidence of the harms these regulations claim to prevent,” said Radia. “If the FCC rule is left intact, it will prevent you from getting free stuff like sponsored data from your wireless provider. Just think, if you like unlimited HBO with your AT&T plan or unlimited music streaming from T-Mobile, then you should demand that these net neutrality regulations be eliminated.”

To read CEI’s latest report on net neutrality regulation, please click here. 

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

>> For Ryan Radia’s recent report on spectrum, A Case for Property Rights in the Electromagnetic Spectrum: How Private Markets Can Unleash Telecommunications Innovation, check it out here.

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