“Neutrality” is an interesting concept for government.

This article raises interesting issues on the need for investment in Internet infrastructure. I can’t quite decipher whether the AT&T executive is looking for government funding of this needed infrastructure. I think so, although I’m just guessing. Also, while a projected increase in network traffic as video options expand online is inevitable, I’m skeptical of this claim:

[Jim Cicconi, vice president of legislative affairs for AT&T] said: “The surge in online content is at the centre of the most dramatic changes affecting the internet today. In three years’ time, 20 typical households will generate more traffic than the entire internet today.”

In three years? I’d like to see those projections.

But that’s not my point here. Generalize this from the specifics about net neutrality and wonder why we can’t get more of this from the government.

The US Department of Justice said in a statement last year: “However well-intentioned, regulatory restraints can inefficiently skew investment, delay innovation and diminish consumer welfare, and there is reason to believe that the kinds of broad marketplace restrictions proposed in the name of ‘neutrality’ would do just that with respect to the internet.”

Regulatory restraints can inefficiently skew investment, delay innovation and diminish consumer welfare? Even when well-intentioned? Who knew?

4 thoughts on ““Neutrality” is an interesting concept for government.”

  1. I actually support government-imposed net neutrality because these backbone companies (AT&T, Comcast, etc.) were spawned by the government in the first place. Government monopoly = government rate regulation.
    (The fact that they are no longer rate-regulated does not change the fact that it was the original monopoly charters that gave them the backbone in the first place.)
    But if, e.g., Google were to build its own pipe with its own money — as it has threatened to do — then it should be free to price it however it sees fit.
    The notion, meanwhile, that the backbone companies need more revenue to build more capacity is all well and good, but you can still get that revenue from one end of the pipe exclusively — the subscriber.
    If I use twice as much bandwidth as you do, then I can pay twice as much as you do. No objection there. But leave whence I’m getting all that content (e.g., Netflix, iTunes or YouTube) out of it.
    The idea that NetNeut will “choke the pipe” is a Chicken Little canard spread by its opponents, pure and simple.

  2. I agree with everything here. (I didn’t quite give that impression, since I lifted my point out of the context.) The issue at hand will always be “whose definition of neutrality?”.
    As you say, where companies use government-built infrastructure, some regulation makes sense. And pay-for-service makes more sense than subjective interpretations of what traffic is most and least important. He who consumes pays.
    I just wonder how well the government will stick to the definition of neutrality. Websites claimed to be in the public interest must get priority. Or restrictions for websites to have some predetermined (subjective) merit to avoid being bumped down. Etc. Like everything government-related, I don’t trust the implementers.

  3. Thanks for that. I laughed out loud. And then my head nearly exploded trying to pick the winner.
    I can pick the loser, though.

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