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What's the problem? 1516 days without a net neutrality mandate

To commemorate the "Seinfeld-ian" aspect of "net neutrality being a show about nothing," NetCompetition.org has introduced a prominent, "What's the Problem?" daily ticker on the NetCompetition.org site.

  • It displays how many days it has been since net neutrality supporters claimed that there was a problem and that there has been no net neutrality mandate.*
  • The point is clear: there is no problem here. The Internet isn't broken and it doesn't need fixing.
    • There is no consumer harm.
      • Prices are falling.
      • Consumer choice and speeds are increasing.
      • Adoption, investment and deployment are healthy.
      • There is an explosion of new products/services and innovation.

It has been 1,516 days or over four years, since the term "net neutrality" was first used publicly and that there has been no net neutrality mandate.

  • In other words, for a long time, net neutrality proponents have been running around like "Chicken Little" screaming the "Internet sky is falling, the Internet sky is falling" and they can't point to a problem or provide any substantive evidence of it.
  • Let me quote FTC Chairman Deborah Majoras:
    • "...thus far proponents of net neutrality have not come to us to explain where the market is failing or what anti-competitive conduct we should challenge; we are open to hearing from them."

*Professor Lawrence Lessig is credited with making up the term "net neutrality". Its a clever, but vacuous term that has caught on.

Why Dorgan-Snowe is all about politics and not real Internet Policy

There are several telling indications that net neutrality remains a political and partisan issue and is not a serious legislative/policy issue or industry problem.

 

First, the only change in the Senate net neutrality bill just introduced, was to change its name from Snowe-Dorgan to Dorgan-Snowe to reflect the new Democratic changeover of Congress. Other than that, the actual bill language is identical to last year’s bill -- according to Senator Dorgan’s spokesperson and my review of the two bills.

Second, isn’t it very telling that the sponsors have learned nothing, let me repeat nothing, since they introduced their bill eight months ago that might have made their bill better or attracted more consensus?

Is Bill Gates distancing Microsoft further from ItsOurNet's Net neutrality position?

Listening to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, in a podcast interview with Richard Scoble at the CES show, Microsoft clearly is no longer singing from the ItsOurNet hymnal on net neutrality.

  • This has to be disconcerting to the ItsOurNet coalition coming on the heels of Microsoft leaving the ItsOurNet coalition during the FCCs’ review of the AT&T-Bell South merger.

When Microsoft withdrew its support and funding from ItsOurNet in the late fall, it indicated that it intended to rejoin ItsOurNet after the merger review was complete.

  • Well it’s been 12 days since the FCC approved the merger… and Microsoft has yet to rejoin ItsOurNet…
  • It may turn out to be wishful thinking on my part that Microsoft has indeed reconsidered its position on net neutrality.

Whether or not Microsoft stays out of ItsOurNet or not, it is clear from this podcast interview that the head of Microsoft does not agree with the standard ItsOurNet line on NN

What do Seinfeld and Net Neutrality have in common?

Both Seinfeld and net neutrality are shows about nothing.

No problem.

No harm.

Nothing.

Isn't America great that you can make something out of nothing?

CES proves innovation is flourishing WITHOUT any NN legislation

If one only listened to net neutrality proponents, one would conclude that American innovation was at death’s door, because there was no “net neutrality� in law.

 

  • The reality, which is obvious to anyone with functioning eyes or ears at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, is that innovation in the American market is exceptionally vibrant!
  • As a result of the consumer electronics show this week, you can’t go to a web news service or look at any major newspaper or magazine and not see stories on the new innovations leveraging connectivity.
  • Innovation and competition are obviously extremely healthy without net neutrality legislation.   

Where is the evidence of the horrible discrimination problem the government must fix immediately? There is none!

Push for wireless net neutrality shows how hyper-regulatory NN proponents are

Net neutrality proponents are trying to make hay and promote net neutrality by saying that the application of NN to WiMax fixed wireless in one of the FCC's AT&T merger conditions amounts to breaking the wireless barrier.

A little fact check and history lesson is in order to douse this silliness.

Wireless is obviously competitive; everyone who turns on a TV or reads a newspaper and sees the blizzard of ads knows it is very competitive. The lame "duopoly" argument is a joke when applied to wireless, noone will take it seriously.

  • It is also important to note that since Congress passed a wireless competition law in 1993, wireless has not been subject to any net-nutrality-like regulation. Let me restate the import of this: the 210 million Americans with cell phones have never had net neutrality and have done just fine. No problem here, just hyper-regulatory over-reaching based on ideology and not facts, logic, good policy or common sense.

Wifi is free and has never been subject to net neutrality. The U.S. has more  WiFi hotspots than any other country. What is the problem here that needs to be fixed?

The FCC condition extending NN to WiMax, a nascent technology with miniscule market share to date, is not a big deal, becuase it is no "principle." AT&T is also forced to divest WiMax spectrum and that WiMax spectrum won't be subject to NN.  Some principle!

The attempt to lasso wireless into NN would be laughable if its dire unintended consequences were not so serious. Has anyone heard the phrase: "if it ain't broke don't fix it?"

Correction: Wrong first name transcribed in WSJ quote on Microsoft explorer post

In my recent blog post, "Why Microsoft's new Internet 7 explorer browser discriminates against small business" I mistakenly used the incorrect first name in my transcription of a Wall Street Journal quote. The quote should have been attributed to "Greg" Waldron (not "Gerry"), of the Waldron company http://thewaldroncompany.com/index.html.  Greg Waldron is founder of a company which is an online provider of water fountains. Precursorbog regrets the error.

Corporate welfare for dotcom billionaires continues in SEC fee proposal issue

Google, Yahoo, and IAC, big pushers of net neutrality corporate welfare, have expanded their effort to eat at the public trough again. See the Wall Street Journal article of today "SEC reviewing Its Data Fee Ruling". 

The super profitable online giants actually have the gall of claiming that paying fees for real-time stock exchange quotes is "beyond the economic reach of an advertising medium like the Internet." Unbelievable! Google is basically printing money with the advertising medium on the Internet! Shouldn't we all throw some coins in Google's platinum "tin cup" to show our concern?

They continue their poor man charade by whining that: "many millions of public investors who access their web sites daily will be injured by the unreasonable fees permitted by the staff's approval of the rule change." Please. These dotcom billionaires can afford to pay normal cost of doinh interstate commerce without passing on the cost to consumers. If they had more competition they wouldn't even consider trying to claim they can pass this on to consumers. But like net neutrality, anytime there is a chance of the online giants costs going up and reducing the online giants huge profits, they run to Washington and ask for corporate welfare. Doesn't everyone understand, its Google's inalienable right for the government to protect Google's extraordinary profitability!

In due time, people will see through the online giants self-serving Washington behavior and have no sympathy for this outrageous behavior. What's really funny is that these people are so clueless to be lobbying for this corporate welfare just when the Democrats are taking over the House and making lobbying reform and ethics a top agenda priority. Doesn't anyone else see the irony?

Blogilantes' Frankenstein AT&T-NN definition is no legislative template

Net neutrality proponents are trying to claim that the net neutrality conditions that they extorted from AT&T represent a template for net neutrality legislation. Ridiculous!

First, these conditions were extorted because of a procedural and political anomoly, not because of any consensus for them. On the contrary, Chairman Martin said the net neutrality conditions were "unnecessary" and "discriminatory." And a majority of the FCC opposes broadening these conditions to the industry at large.

Second, the merger conditions only apply to one of several U.S. broadband competitors, and the conditions are company specific and are not useful or accurate in applying to other technologies or companies. Moreover, it does not apply to AT&T's business customers, to its unique IPTV video service or its wireless service. It supposedly applies to WiMax, but AT&T is being forced to divest WiMax spectrum that the condition will not apply to. And is WiMax WiFi? Which alphabet version of WiMax does this condition supposedly apply to? There is no useful definition here. This is the blogilantes' "frankenstein definition" which is of no use to any fair legislative or judicial process.   

Third, the supreme irony here is that these conditions were alleged to promote non-discrimination but were applied in a highly discriminatory way to only one company in a perversion of the normal democratic process. 

Finally, those proponents that expect other companies to abide by the conditions that their competitor had to abide to because of an anomolous merger situation, are in dreamland. This is still a free country, there is still rule of law, it still takes a majority of the House, 60 votes in the Senate and the President's signature to change the law. The net neutrality blogilantes "will run into the buzzsaw" of the American constitutional process. 

FCC extortion of AT&T on Net neutrality was minimal, but horrible in other areas

The FCC conditions imposed on the AT&T-Bell-South merger are among the most regulatory government micro-management that I have observed in my fifteen years covering the industry.  The FCC minority leveraged a procedural and political anomolous circumstance to extort merger concessions that never would have survived an open democratic process. This was the functional equivalent of a back alley shake-down, where the companies had to give into unconscionable extortion in order to secure their commercial freedom.    

That being said, it is clear that AT&T had to give up a lot of regulatory concessions in the areas of special access and divestiture of 2.5 MHz spectrum in order to fend off the worst of the net neutrality extortion.

  • AT&T agreed to continue to abide by the FCC's net neutrality principles for another couple of years which simply extends the agreement they had already made on the SBC-AT&T merger last year for roughly a year longer.
  • They also agreed to not degrade or prioritize traffic, like they had already publicly agreed not to do, with exceptions for their IPTV business, enterprise business and their wireless business.
  • Bottom-line on net neutrality -- No big change here from what AT&T was already doing and pledging to do. AT&T appropriately resisted the worst of the net neutrality concessions.

I fully expect that net neutrality will remain the biggest regulatory issue going forward. The online giants will continue to manipulate the political process for competitive advantage, seeking to prevent non-neutral behavior from their biggest potential competitors when they are not neutral themselves and when they have more gatekeeper influence over the Internet than any broadband company. 

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths