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What European Broadband Lesson? -- Part 27 Net Neutrality Research Series

If the Washington Post had fact-checked Save-the-Internet’s spin, or even sought out an alternative viewpoint for balance, they easily could have avoided the obvious fundamental factual mistakes in their article: “What Europe can teach us about keeping the Internet open and free.”

First, Mr. Fung inaccurately attributed Save-the-Internet’s extreme and highly-controversial definition of net neutrality -- “all Internet traffic, no matter where’s its going or who it came from, should be treated the same” -- as the FCC’s “concept of net neutrality,” when the FCC’s compromise net neutrality definition was much less controversial and very different than the Post’s Save-the-Internet characterization.

Simply, from its first policy statement on the subject in 2005, the FCC’s “concept of network neutrality” has allowed for “reasonable network management” meaning that Internet packets/traffic can be managed and prioritized to ensure quality-of-service for real-time communications like VoIP or live video streaming, and to filter out spam and malware traffic, among other things.

Anyone who listened to the September 9th oral argument, read the FCC or Verizon briefs, or read the actual FCC Open Internet order itself, could not come away with “the notion” that the net neutrality rules at question in court were about what the Post said: i.e. “that all Internet traffic… should be treated the same.” That’s Save-the-Internet spin with which the FCC, the White House, the court, and the broadband industry all disagree, if only the Post would have asked. 

Second, Mr. Fung leaps from advancing Save-the-Internet’s fringe definition of net neutrality, to advancing Save-the-Internet’s fringe policy mantra -- that because America did not adopt Europe’s unbundling net neutrality policy, America has fallen behind the world in broadband deployment. Specifically, his Post article posits: “If American policy makers had made different choices a decade ago, we might have avoided this [net neutrality] fight altogether. … Experts point to Europe, where nations have committed themselves to something called local loop unbundling.”

Anyone that has followed this issue closely could have informed the Post that the Europeans themselves now have admitted that their policy has failed and that it is Europe that has fallen behind the U.S. on broadband deployment and investment.

Less than two weeks ago, the EU Vice President overseeing broadband, Neelie Kroes, said: “Japan, South Korea, and the USA have around the same population, but over 8 times more fixed fibre broadband and about 15 times more 4G. Europe needs to catch up.” per The Telegraph.

The Post article attempted to showcase the EU as a broadband policy success story by using France as its shining example, but an alternative view from France Telecom’s Deputy CEO is telling, he told the WSJ in June: “It’s humiliating – we’re behind… the web was mainly invented by a European, but the big companies are American and the fastest networks are in the U.S. and Asia.”

In short, the Post’s readers would have been better served if the Post fact-checked the main assertions of this purported news piece, and/or spoke to anyone with an alternative view of net neutrality than just their Save-the-Internet sources.

Net Neutrality Series

Part 1: Who really funds FreePress and its net neutrality allies? [10-2-09]

Part 2: Avoiding slippery slope of network neutrality regulation - regulate down not up [10-3-09]

Part 3: Why FCC Net Neutrality Regs Do NOT Preserve Status Quo [10-14-09]

Part 4: Open Un-Neutrality — Will FCC Re-Distribute Internet Opportunity [10-19-09]

Part 5: Wireless investment already is "unleashed! FCC net neutrality regs would leash it [10-30-09]

Part 6: Net Neutrality is a Made-Up Issue: The Smoking Gun [11-9-09]

Part 7: FreePress wants revolution not resolution of net neutrality [9-23-10]

Part 8: House Net Neutrality Legislation Takeaways [9-28-10]

Part 9: FreePress' Faux Urgency on Net Neutrality [10-4-10]

Part 10: The Floundering Net Neutrality Movement [10-25-10]

Part 11: All 95 PCCC Net Neutrality Supporters Lost in the Election [11-3-10]

Part 12: Net Neutrality, PCCC & the First Law of Holes [11-5-10]

Part 13: FCC Net Neutrality Regulation Would Hurt Economy & Jobs [11-18-10]

Part 14: Level 3 & Net Neutrality -- Ignorance Unleashed! [11-30-10]

Part 15: 5 Questions for the FCC on Net Neutrality [2-15-11]

Part 16: Net Neutrality Update: Level 3, "revolution," & Supreme Court [2-18-11]

Part 17: FCC Out-Europes Europe on Net Neutrality -- Why? [3-1-11]

Part 18: Implications of Court Ruling Net Neutrality Appeal Premature [4-4-11]

Part 19: The Net Neutrality Accountability Gauntlet [4-12-11]

Part 20: The Big Unanswered Net Neutrality Questions [5-5-11]

Part 21: Debunking FreePress' Claim Verizon Violated Net Neutrality [6-16-11]

Part 22: Net Neutrality Proponents are Hearing Footsteps [6-30-11]

Part 23: FCC's Net Neutrality Rationale Crumbling in US & EU -- Dead Regs Walking? [7-12-11]

Part 24: Net Neutrality Proponents Pyrrhic Senate Victory [11-10-11]

Part 25: U.S. Net Neutrality Movement in Retreat [7-9-12]

Part 26: Professor Crawford’s Desperate Search for a Problem to Regulate [9-18-13]