Net Neutrality is Making a Comeback

Net Neutrality is rearing its ugly head again, and nothing about it serves the general public. So what’s this about?

October 23, 2023

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

Net Neutrality Yes, much like Hollywood, we’ve run out of new plots and story lines, and we’re just doing remakes now, but with greater inclusivity and intersectionality.

Net Neutrality is like the anti-price gouging or rent control laws. Economically illiterate policy makers looking for a quick score on the popularity meter resort to this. Between the comforting nomenclature and the well-intended, equitable outcome, people feel good about it.

The problem is, it controls supply regardless of demand, so ultimately people aren’t paying for what they want or need. They are paying the same for whatever they are given.

The “neutrality” in this scheme is that all data is treated the same. Which means everyone gets the same amount of juice whether it’s a phone or a laptop, whether it’s a picture or a video, a presentation or a game.

The problem with that is, a phone doesn’t need to get images in 1080p and a TV would.

So why bother innovating better resolution if no one can get it, because it’ll just be throttled until everyone can have it?

There is only so much bandwidth. Just as there’s only so many bottles of water after a natural disaster. Just as there’s only so many apartments in a given area.

Placing a premium on low supply high demand goods and services, ensures some people get the best that is available. The alternative is everyone lives equally in mediocrity and nothing really ever improves, or worse, we all eventually go without because there’s little point in keeping things as they are.

The Washington Examiner’s headline reads: FCC votes to move forward on reinstating Obama-era net neutrality rules

The FCC voted 3-2 on Thursday in favor of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would reestablish the FCC’s authority to pursue net neutrality, which is the requirement that internet service providers do not discriminate based on the source or destination of data, by classifying providers as common carriers under Title 2 of the Communications Act, meaning they could be regulated more heavily as if they were telecommunications providers.

So… the FCC voted on this? The FCC being a body of unelected bureaucrats, not actual lawmakers, decided they’d like to regulate Internet Service Providers more heavily.

To what end? Why resurrect this failed and rejected policy from the Obama era now? Reuters reports:

“There is no expert agency ensuring that the internet is fast, open, and fair”, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said … “Internet access needs to be more than just accessible and affordable. The internet needs to be open.”

What does this actually mean? There’s been no populist complaint about the internet. In fact, it’s just been getting faster and cheaper. An article from 2021 reads:

As speeds have increased, consumer value has improved as well. While in 2000, the price per megabit of service was over $28, yet with exponential speed increases the price by 2020 had dropped to $0.64 per Mbps – a 98% decrease in two decades.

So what is our girl Jessica even talking about? I mean, the only part of the internet that isn’t “open” is the part where people get censored for having wrongthink and wrongspeak. That’s not very open. But that doesn’t have to do with internet bandwidth.

In her own words, Jessica tells us: the reclassification would give the FCC important new national security tools.

And there it is. Good ole NaTiOnAl SeCuRiTy. Because the tired plots weren’t enough, let’s bring in the tired rationale too. Given the short attention spans of many these days, it might seem like an entirely new concept to them.

I’d love to hear a national security scenario where me getting the video on my TV throttled while you’re getting more data than you need on your phone, saves humanity.

The idea that emergency services can’t cut through the clutter when they need to is more about them buying the necessary bandwidth to pull it off. Because the issue Net Neutrality proponents have isn’t that some people cannot get high speeds… it’s that some people cannot afford to pay for it.

Government agencies most certainly can afford to pay for it. They pay for the state of the art in everything whether they need it or not anyway. What’s an internet bill in the grand scheme of things? So when I see “National Security” pop up alongside this, it sounds incredibly sinister. It sounds like a hunger for control.

All the heightened war fanaticism, and the bludgeoning of the covid horse, along with the general hype of social justice has people worried and this particular buzzword of “National Security” taps into all of that.

The reality is, while the federal side was stopped under Trump, many states kept going. As of 2018, here’s where Net Neutrality landed:

  • 36 states have proposed or passed a resolution, bill, or executive order since the new rules were adopted.
  • Six states, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, have addressed this change by issuing Executive Orders requiring companies wishing to contract with the State to confirm that they will meet the 2017 net neutrality requirements.
  • Thirty states have proposed legislation reinstating the net neutrality rules or requiring state contractors to abide by them.
  • Ten additional states initiated Resolutions supporting Net Neutrality principles.

All this aside, the idea of Net Neutrality should already be dead in the water given the state of the world now.

2020 ushered in massive increases in remote working alone should preclude any such discussions of throttling. All those who rely on video conferencing, making and distributing large presentations and videos, and even the gaming industry and streaming services all rely on heavy bandwidth. Bandwidth they and their respective users are willing to pay for.

The No to Net Neutrality has calcified exponentially since the Obama era for me, and probably anyone who dares to hope for economic recovery in their lifetimes.

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