I submitted my comments in response to the Federal Communication Commission’s May 15, 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in GN Docket Number 14-28, relating the Open Internet. Here is a summary.
The FCC should not adopt sector specific net neutrality or “Open Internet” rules. It has scant evidence for net neutrality violation; the academic literature about net neutrality has ambiguous conclusions about its benefits; and there is a not a general agreement of market failure needing fixing with net neutrality rules. The court has affirmed the FCC’s authority to investigate concerns of net neutrality under Section 706 of the Communications Act should concerns arise. The FCC may also manage net neutrality through multi-stakeholder dialogue, a model used globally for internet governance issues and which has proven to deter net neutrality violations in a number of number of countries.
However net neutrality and its attendant ideological and theoretical conjectures, threaten to distract the FCC from its core mission. Therefore net neutrality, if it is in fact a consumer issue, belongs under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission which has greater expertise in this area than the FCC.
These comments provide a brief review of the literature on net neutrality, the open internet, and the implication for their lack of definition. It also reviews the FCC’s assertion of the “virtuous circle of innovation” which it purports is stimulated by net neutrality along with other theories of innovation.
These comments also review the case for Title II classification of broadband and the evidence for network coverage and investment in countries which have pursued utility style regulation of broadband. It concludes by restating the the facts presented the FCC’s own reports about the progress the US has experienced with broadband over the last decade. The findings underscore that current broadband policy is a success and that there is not market failure for internet access. As such, these comments urge the FCC to avoid the classification of broadband as a Title II communications service, a move which would be counterproductive to gains made to date.
The best option for industry, consumers, and innovation is to implement the common regulatory regime of competition law and antitrust that will apply equally to all internet services, applications, content, processes, devices, and business models.
My colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute have also submitted comments which detail the issue from legal and engineering perspectives. See Richard Bennett’s Bennett FCC NPRM Comments and Gus Hurwitz’s Hurwitz – FCC OI NPRM Comments – 20140718.
Forbes: Here is my article about the FCC process on net neutrality.
InsideSources: Here is an overview about the FCC filing and some helpful links
TechPolicyDaily: Here are some blogs I wrote on net neutrality