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Net neutrality's "moving goalpost" on competition

I wanted to make sure folks did not miss a classic comment by a leading net neutrality proponent last week which shows their stubburn refusal to acknowledge the reality and "proof" of competition.

In Communications Daily last week in the lead article on the AT&T-Bell South merger was the following quote:

  • "Public Knowledge Pres. Gigi Sohn, another coalition member, said  AT&T should abide by conditions longer than proposed. Conditions should last until competition can be proven, which probably would be for "a very long time,' she said." [bold added for emphasis]

Until competition can be proven? Hello? Gigi you are obviously ignoring all the existing proof and playing the Washington game of "moving the goalposts." 

Let's review what's been proven by whom.

First, all fifty state public utility commissions, the FCC and the DOJ have officially ruled after exhaustive review that the local market is officially and "irreversibly open to competition." That legal standard of "proof" was statutorily necessary to allow the Bells to enter the long distance business. That process took around 7 years and literally millions of pages of public filings or "proof". That "proof" was tested multiple times in the courts and upheld.

Second, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, and the FCC, which have the statutory authority to protect competition, have approved major mergers in the last two years after exhaustively reviewing all the markets in question and found them competitive. (Cingular-AT&T Wireless, Sprint-Nextel, Verizon-MCI, SBC-AT&T, -- and recently DOJ AT&T-Bell South). These legal approvals are additional "proof" the market is competitive.

Third, look at the FCC's broadband competition reports. Look at the FCC wireless competition reports. Look at all the customers of wireless companies, Vonage, Skype, Cable VoIP, wireless broadband. The official, industry and consumer evidence of a competitive market is overwhelming.

In sum, if all these official facts and processes are not "proof" of competition what is the new standard and process you are proposing to judge competition? The reason I ask Gigi, is that we both know that you don't have a competition standard in mind that could withstand, legal, policy and political scrutiny. You are just playing the moving goalpost game -- no matter how much competition exists -- you will ignore its benefits and say we need more. And if one does not reach your mythical competition standard, your point is supposedly "proven" and all these companies deserve regulation as the only true way to protect competition in your eyes.

Proof requires rigor, effort, standards and a process. Where is your "proof" that the market is not competitive? Can your mythical version of competition withstand public scrutiny?