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Markey broadband legislation: Let no good deed go unpunished

What's wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with this picture? Nothing! 

Nothing... unless you prefer Big Government regulation of broadband and the Internet over free market forces, like House Telecom Chairman Ed Markey does.

  • Nothing galls a regulatory type like Chairman Markey more than when the marketplace shows that regulators are not the font of all economic production, innovation and consumer welfare.
    • In short, that consumers and the market do a better job than regulators in determining and delivering what consumers want and a get in the marketplace.

So what is Chairman Markey proposing to do? Legislate! He is cleverly inserting the regulatory equivalent of the proverbial "camels nose under the tent" with his proposed "broadband mapping" bill.

  • Chairman Markey would order the NTIA to spend $36m over three years for a national map and another $300m for local technology planning grants!
  • The proposed bill would also require detailed broadband availability and speed data gathering by 9 digit zip codes not the 5 digit of today.
  • Then the Government is to compare the data to other countries data.
  • The most problematic part of the bill is the purportedly innocuous requirement to declare two speeds between the current 200 kbps and the speed required for video transmission.
    • (A comical aside here:
      • Wasn't it Mr. "Net Neutrality" himself, Chairman Markey, the one that may have railed the loudest against the evils of a "two tiered Internet!" 
      • A slow lane and a fast lane? Horrors!
      • How can the Internet be neutral or equal to all if  some people can actually pay for a faster "premium" connection that allows them to access sites that others cannot?
      • Isn't that precisely the "evil" of a non-neutral Internet -- that some people with faster broadband would be more equal than those that don't?
      • Has Chairman Markey changed his stance or just accepted reality?)
    • Back to my main point.  
  • Chairman Markey wants to have the law state that broadband is fast enough to download video, 2-10 Mbs depending on if it is full HD.
    • Armed with that new definition, Chairman Markey could get back on his soapbox and rail against market failure and claim that a "national broadband policy" is needed -- i.e. that Big Government must intervene and regulate and tax and spend to make America competitive again!
    • This proposed Markey bill is all about laying the groundwork for a big industrial policy that would abandon the bipartisan policy of "promoting competition and reducing regulation" in the 1996 telecom Act and the policy to not regulate the Internet.
    • Chairman Markey's future would have broadband not be an unregulated "infomation service" but more of a regulated common carrier going forward.  Ugh!

In closing, it is truly amazing that just as deregulation has spawned a true and obvious renaissance in broadband investment, deployment and facilities-based competition, Chairman Markey apparently believes no good deed should go unpunished!

  • The only reason the government would need the detailed regulatory information required in Chairman Markey's bill, is if it contemplates the need to regulate the prices, terms and conditions of broadband and Internet access in the future.