You are here

AEA's "report" does not comply with its own disclosures

The AEA has issued a "report" called "The Case for Preserving Net Neutrality" The AEA research staff has some embarassing explaining to do to the AEA Board and to AEA's lawyers because in this Sarbanes-Oxley era, the AEA did not even come close to fairly representing their own definitive disclosure claims. 

Let me quote first from their representation disclosures. On the front page they claim: " The AEA research team produces regular reports...We combine rigorous data with careful analysis to provide industry leaders and policymakers the information they need to assess the issue." In the back they also claim: "AEA has made every reasonable effort to assure the accuracy of the information in this publication."  "...AEA accepts no liability for inaccuracies that may occur." (Bold added for emphasis) Let's examine if they fairly represented their treatment of this issue.

First, the report completely omits the data, rationale, background and justification supporting the Government's position, after many years of deliberation on this issue. There is no discussion of why the expert agency (the FCC) made the policy decision on neutrality they did, nor any mention of the relevant law, nor the fact that the authority behind this decision was ultimately affirmed by the Supreme Court. There is no mention of the FCC's defense of its position. There is no mention that the FTC which also has consumer protection jurisdiction on net neutrality just said in August that noone has come to the FTC to "explain where the market is failing or what anti-competitive conduct we should challenge." 

Second, there is no mention of the FCC's broadband competition report which is the most rigorous data available on the competitivess of the broadband market.  

Third, the report completely misrepresented the history of net neutrality.  In the report's intro overview the authors claim: "Network neutrality was the guiding principle since the inception of the Internet." The authors don't mention the term was first coined by a law professor a few years ago and they can't point to a place where net neutrality was the guiding principle since its inception. In fact, the opposite has been the law of the land for the last eleven years. The authors conveniently and egregiously omit what existing law is that they want to change. From the 1996 Telecom Act: the purpose: "to Promote competition and reduce regulation..." On the Internet: "It is the policy of the United States--to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet...unfettered by Federal of State regulation."   

And these researchers have the gall to say in their first paragragh that "the current debate is being driven by network operators, resulting in a one-sided view full of misleading information."

Fourth, the core fact underlying their whole report is incorrect! "This changed in August 2005 when the FCC effectively removed the legal protection of content neutrality for all broadband Internet access providers." If they did any research or careful analysis on this issue whatsoever, they would have known that copper is the only technology net neutrality applied to. It never applied to the 30 million cable modem providers. Since 1993 it didn't apply to wireless, meaning it does not apply to 210 million cell phones. It has never applied to satellite broadband, WiFi, WiMax, wireless broadband or broadband over powerlines. This is  pretty fundamental innacuracy, they should admit and correct; we'll see if their disclosures and reputation mean anything.

Fifth, they took quotes out of context to mislead. Why didn't the researchers include the definitive quote on this issue from the Chairman of AT&T Ed Whitacre in March at Telecom Next: "Let me be clear: AT&T will not block anyone's access to the public Internet nor will we degrade anyone's quality of service. Period. end of story." Unfortunately including facts and balanced quotes like that would undermine the researchers obviously biased conclusions.

Sixth, they used numbers in a very misleading way. "Companies such as Yahoo! and Google pay billions of dollars a year to network operators..."  Check Yahoo and Google's financials they do not pay billions of dollars to network providers. That number isnt even is the right galaxy. 

It is pretty clear that Yahoo and Google helped ghost write this report because this is the charge they are so desperately trying to deflect -- that the biggest online giants: like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay and Amazon, pay relatively little for the Internet as the relatively largest consumers of Internet bandwidth. These online giants are trying to hide behind the skirts of all of the ~7 million companies that generallly pay their fair share of the costs of the Internet. The researchers seem clueless to the fact that Internet usage is no where near equal, which forces the low bandwidth users to subsidize the big bandwidth users.

I wonder if the researchers told their board that net neutrality would force most all of their 2500 member companies to pay a lot more for their bandwidth under the average pricing scheme of net neutrality -- because the online giants have tricked AEA's researchers into thinking they are looking out for their whole membership. The few have suckered the many once more over net neutrality.

Finally, I could go on and on because there are many more flaws and misreprsentations in this so called research report. But let me show some mercy, and come to my core conclusion: this report is obviously ghost written by the online giants like Yahoo and Google and the AEA will eventually figure out that they have been snookered big time.