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Exposing the Biases in the Broadband Policy Debate -- My new white paper

Invited to speak at the ITIF forum on ITIF's white paper: "It's Time to End the Broadband Policy Wars" -- I so strongly disagreed with the framing bias of that white paper and the broadband policy debate in general that I decided I needed to counter it by writing my own white paper:

  • Don’t be Fooled by the National Broadband Policy “Straw Man”


    Exposing Three Hidden Policy Biases of Broadband Policy Proponents

The abstract of my six page paper is below:

Abstract. Don’t be fooled by the straw man argument and hidden biases in the assumptions undergirding the call for a more government-centric national broadband policy. Their argument cannot withstand common sense, penetrating analysis, or ‘open’ public scrutiny. There are at least three major hidden biases in their pillar assumptions, that when exposed, make it clear that proponents of a more government-centric national broadband policy need to go back to the drawing board to find a legitimate rationale for their policy approach.     

·         Hidden Bias #1: Denial that free market competition works. The OECD broadband rankings assume every nation has, or should have, a national broadband industrial policy and that a free market policy approach cannot work – because the OECD tracks only industrial policy measures and no market-relevant measures of broadband progress. If more market relevant measures were included in the rankings, the U.S.’ unique intermodal broadband success would put the U.S. at the top of the rankings and force OECD nations to revisit their industrial policy orthodoxy. 

·         Hidden Bias #2: Denial that network utilization/cost matter in broadband policymaking. Proponents wrongly assume that the only goal for broadband is and should be speed. They seek to avoid any discussion of network utilization, cost, or who pays versus who benefits -- because it would expose the policy as a Silicon Valley ‘open checkbook’ scheme to get average consumers, broadband providers and taxpayers to subsidize Silicon Valley billionaires and bandwidth hogs.  

·         Hidden Bias #3: Denial of wireless broadband competition and consumer demand for mobility. The case for a more government-centric national broadband policy depends on the predicate of an ‘opoly’ broadband market which requires denial of the existence of wireless broadband competition and consumer demand for broadband mobility. Only by convincing people that broadband competition cannot work can they justify a new more government-centric national broadband policy.    

Bottom line: The case for a more government-centric national broadband policy depends on no one challenging its fragile pillar assumptions. Proponents know their ‘straw man’ argument is a superficially-appealing, but substantively weak. Any rigorous inquiry into: progress measurement frameworks, network utilization/cost, or intermodal competition, will expose the obvious weakness of their policy argument. Let the policy-making by acclamation end, and the real and substantive policy debate begin.