Tags: net | neutrality | government | shutdown

Net Neutrality Is a Government Shutdown, Too

knotted net cable over a smartphone with the words net neutrality on screen

By    |   Thursday, 10 January 2019 11:17 AM

We’re nearly three weeks and counting into the U.S. government shutdown because of a wall and its imagined harm.

The media would have you believe that America is on the brink of destruction as a result.

Yet, why believe them when they all but ignored another “shutdown” as the Obama administration took control of the Internet and its thriving ecosystem in the last years of his presidency?

In 2015, the Obama FCC imposed Net Neutrality regulations on Internet providers. Siding with the FCC, the adoring media parroted the Administration’s spin that Net Neutrality’s “simple, bright line” rules were necessary to keep the Internet “free and open” for all Americans. Without them, only the wealthy would get the best services, walling-off the promise of the Internet for the masses.

What the media didn’t report was that the marketplace and “light-touch” regulation – not heavy-handed FDR-era rules – made the Internet so amazing in the first place. Obama’s new rules changed that, though, forcing ISPs to subsidize Silicon Valley’s access to their customers, and putting Uncle Sam in control of network innovation, investment and Internet speech.

Not surprisingly, the rules fenced-off new growth, which had otherwise seen an explosive, nearly $2 trillion privately-driven expansion since 1996.

According to the U.S. Telecom Association, “data indicate that annual industry capital expenditures fell – for the first time following the 2008-9 recession – by approximately a half billion dollars in 2015, and by another $2.7 billion in 2016. In all, by 2016, annual capital spending by broadband providers was $3.2 billion lower than it was in 2014” before Net Neutrality. By U.S. Telecom’s estimation, the investment decline coincided with the FCC’s decision to impose common carrier, Net Neutrality regulations on ISPs.

Thankfully, Obama’s Net Neutrality government shutdown was short-lived. Last year, the Trump FCC, led by FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, repealed the heavy-handed rules via the agency’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order. It tore down Obama’s Internet wall.

Subsequent efforts by progressive Democrats to “repeal the repeal” failed, leaving Chairman Pai to remark earlier this month: “I’m pleased that a strong bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives declined to reinstate heavy-handed Internet regulation. They did the right thing—especially considering the positive results for American consumers since the adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. Over the past year, the Internet has remained free and open. Broadband speeds are up…Internet access is also expanding, and the digital divide is closing…In short, the FCC’s light-touch approach is working...” (Emphasis added)

Yes, it is. Thank you, Chairman Pai.

U.S. Telecom notes that pent-up investment is free again, with network spending increasing $1.5 billion in 2017 over the prior year. According to the Fiber Broadband Association, the number of homes with access to fiber Internet jumped 23% last year. And, the Consortium for School Networking recently concluded that “Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity is expanding in K-12 school districts across the U.S. as costs continue to decline…” (Emphasis added)

You wouldn’t know this from the media, which chooses not to report the good news. It doesn’t matter. All you need to do is go outside and witness for yourself the new cell towers being erected, rolls of fiber optic cable being put into service beneath our streets, bucket trucks and their technicians wiring homes with new broadband, and innovative service offerings – such as 5G, etc. – coming online to know that the Internet is thriving once again.

Net Neutrality presented an arbitrary government shutdown to that progress. Of course, the confiscatory rule was always-ever a manufactured problem designed to justify a needless regulation. Ironically, it proved the maxim that investment and growth go wanting when a government can willy-nilly undermine it. Needless barriers have a cost.

Today’s government shutdown is about erecting a wall to protect average Americans. Obama’s Net Neutrality shutdown erected a wall to protect Silicon Valley billionaires and authoritarian Uncle Sam elites.

Don’t believe the misinforming media. It’s a no-brainer which shutdown and wall are better for us all.

Mike Wendy is president of Media Freedom, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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Don’t believe the misinforming media. It’s a no-brainer which shutdown and wall are better for us all.
net, neutrality, government, shutdown
Thursday, 10 January 2019 11:17 AM
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