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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Net Neutrality = Net Control

So-called “net neutrality” seems to be morphing into “net control.” Is anyone really surprised?

The push for so-called “net neutrality” was billed as promoting a free and open Internet. The threat supposedly was that Internet service providers would launch a nefarious plot to block certain traffic on the Web. Why broadband network providers would go about angering consumers, content providers, public crusaders and politicians remains a mystery, but hey, why let economic and political realities get in the way of a juicy political power grab?

And now The Wall Street Journal serves up a report noting that the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and how two fellow Democrats on the commission, are preparing to grab the reigns of the Internet, and decide how things should operate.

From the Journal:

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is proposing that the agency apply tougher open-Internet rules broadly, raising concerns of cable and phone companies and some lawmakers that the government could try to control efforts to offer products such as digital cable or premium business services.

Mr. Genachowski's proposal suggests everything in the Internet pipe is covered by rules prohibiting discrimination against any legal Internet traffic, known as net neutrality, unless the agency says otherwise, according to FCC officials familiar with a draft circulating in the agency.

Internet providers could seek exemptions for so-called premium managed services, like private corporate data networks or pay-TV services, which require guaranteed levels of data speed.

Phone and cable companies worry Mr. Genachowski is trying to turn their broadband lines into "dumb pipes" of Internet data, instead of highly segmented and managed lines that allow them to offer different sorts of services -- at different prices -- to customers.

Dumb pipes? In effect, dumbing down the Internet? If that’s what we want, then net neutrality/net control regulation is just what’s needed. However, if we want a dynamic Internet, with companies investing and innovating, then more government control and regulation certainly is not the answer.

Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

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