An Appeals Court recently threw out the FCC's net neutrality rules on internet traffic, leaving some saying that this can increase internet fees and stifle innovation. Scott Cleland, of the public interest group Net Competition, says that the definition on net neutrality keeps changing, which is the problem.
Most people understand net neutrality as consumers should have the right to access any legal content on the internet of their choice and have any legal access to apps of their choice, says Cleland, however, there are many groups using that as a "trojan horse" to extract common carrier regulation. Common carrier regulation is the old monopoly-style regulation, which Cleland says is a problem because of its "mother may I" regulation. He explains that everyone has to go to a regulator anytime they want to innovate, change prices, put in new fiber and the FCC could take months, if ever, to answer. The Appeals Court ruling said the FCC went too far, so now the FCC will have to change the rules for the third time, says Cleland.
The battle is over how one looks at networks and what's happened over the last 10 years is that we've had more competition in broadband provision that any other country, says Cleland, adding that a lot of the net neutrality debate is saying that America should be like the monopoly-regulated markets around the world, where innovation hasn't been leading. "Our pro-competitive environment in the U.S. has resulted in the most innovation and dynamism than any other market n the world by far," Cleland says.
What Cleland calls the "nuclear option" is something the FCC could consider, although he doesn't think the FCC will go there. This would be reclassifying broadband services as a common carrier telephone monopoly. The problem with this, Cleland says, is that since the 1970's, the decision not to apply common carrier regulation to data services then and the internet now, "is going against 43 years of uninterrupted wise policy so basically they can have an agenda to hyper-regulate the broadband industry," says Cleland.
Cleland believes this is very misguided and very destructive and doubts the FCC will give it much attention. "It is remarkable what the free market has done and we don't want to ruin that by basically throwing back the clocks to 1969 with that type of regulation, common carrier regulation," says Cleland.
Scott Cleland is with Net Competition, a public interest group. For more information on Scott, click here. He spoke with The Legal Broadcast Nework, providing online, on-demand legal video content. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.