May 14, 2014

Should the FCC treat ISPs as common carriers?

One of the reasons that previous net neutrality regulations were struck down by a Federal Court was that ISPs were not treated as utility companies or common carriers, thus there was no legal authority for the FCC to impose net neutrality standards. There are indications that at least some in the FCC are willing to consider classifying ISPs as common carriers. This, of course, has the ISPs screaming that it will destroy the internet in America. Of course, they also claim that not being able to double charge both their customers and content providers would harm “the internet” despite the fact that major ISPs made literally billions of dollars in profit last year. It’s probably clear where I stand on this issue, but perhaps I’m missing something. Should the FCC reclassify ISPs as common carriers so they can more fully regulate the industry, or are US ISP doing such an excellent job that regulation is unnecessary and would harmful the ISPs’ ability to deliver world class service?
Top ISPs threaten to innovate less, spend less on network upgrades

"Think you hate your Internet service provider now? Pretty much all the top ISPs in the country just told the Federal Communications Commission that if they face extra regulation, they will stop investing as much as they do today in network upgrades, and they will have to stop being so innovative.

AT&T is just spouting "scary mumbo-jumbo," net neutrality proponent says.
The threat came today in a letter signed by the chief executives of AT&T, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Frontier, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable, 15 other companies, and industry groups such as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the CTIA Wireless Association."
The telecom companies said the exact same thing when their monopoly was threatened...

This is the same tired "I have a monopoly and I want to keep it" argument. Common carrier would inject new competition by lowering the barrier to entry. And we all know competition is better for the consumer. Of course ISPs are going to make threats; they are angry their billion dollar monopoly might get taken away.

First, we are not getting World Class Service, we are only paying as if we are. If you look at what Americans pay for broadband and what speeds we get, we are like an Eastern European country in terms of performance, (and not one of the more developed ones) but we pay more than almost any other developed country. So the ISPs are BSing about how great we have it and how regulation will “destroy innovation.” The ISPs are the ones with the strangleholds on the internet in America and of course they don’t want any regulation that would force them to provide better service or break up their near monopolistic positions. Yes, they should be classified as common carriers, and the person heading up the organization that is in charge of regulating them should not have been a lobbyist for the industry just a few months ago. Of course, you are going to hear whiners whining about “socialism” if you introduce any regulations, but those same people seem to like having public roads and services so I give these people the attention they deserve and ignore them.

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