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Kampis: Net neutrality rules not needed in today’s market


The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines at its April 25 open meeting to reimplement net neutrality rules on internet providers via the Promoting a Fast, Open and Fair Internet Order. But, the internet was already fast. It was already open. And, it has continued to be fair, seven years after Title II rules were removed. This move by the commission can only harm those gains.

The order classifies broadband internet access service as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, an issue the left has framed as “net neutrality” because it prevents providers from blocking or favoring websites and throttling speeds. But those issues that proponents of Title II regulations promised would arise when the rules were rescinded in 2017 did not come to pass.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, in dissenting against the vote, described the issue as “a civil religion for activists on the left.” He said that those in support of bringing back Title II rules have not put forth a legitimate rationale for their return.

Part of the push for the reimplementation of Title II rules deals with claims that they are needed to increase national security so that the FCC can deny companies controlled by foreign governments access to American broadband networks. But as Carr has noted, this plan identifies no gap in national security that Title II would fill.

Congress has not authorized the FCC to fill this role, but there are already plenty of cops on this beat — federal lawmakers have empowered the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Treasury with the ability to handle security issues in the communications sector.

Carr described the claims that the regulations are needed for cybersecurity and national security as “simply pretexts to justify the old power grab.”

Mounting evidence shows that removing the Title II rules did not harm the internet, and instead allowed broadband to flourish. U.S. Telecom–The Internet Association reported that 2021 saw a 20-year high of $86 billion for capital expenditures into the nation’s communications infrastructure, due in large part to the regulatory status quo in recent years.

Data from Ookla show the U.S. now ranks among the fastest in the world for fixed, mobile and 5G speeds, and that median fixed download speeds have increased five-fold since 2017. And, while inflation has seen the cost of nearly everything else increase, broadband costs have decreased. The price of internet services has dropped by nearly 10% since 2018, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Services Consumer Price Index.

Fifth-Generation, or 5G wireless services is also helping close the gap. An estimated 93% of Americans are able to access 5G technology with broadband-capable speeds. CTIA, which represents the wireless industry, reported providers in that sector invested $39 billion into their networks in 2022, an all-time high.

Americans can thank increased competition among providers due to fewer regulations for these gains. The light-handed touch by government has allowed innovation to flourish, and providers use a variety of methods that include fiber, cable, wireless, fixed wireless, and satellite to provide broadband coast-to-coast. Unfortunately, Thursday’s FCC vote could very well shift this in reverse, discouraging new entrants into markets and decreasing private investment.

The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies found in its research that investment into broadband infrastructure dropped between 20% to 30% (as much as $200 billion) between 2011 and 2015, in the years that President Barack Obama took office and then-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski began discussing the Title II reclassification.

Phoenix Center analyst Dr. George Ford found that telecommunications investment was 25% below expectation in 2017, with the stricter regulation clearly affecting provider decision-making before the order was repealed.

Title II proponents continue to tilt at windmills by bringing back these unnecessary regulations. The past seven years of a robust internet prove that Title II rules were never needed and that they continue to be about nothing more than government for the sake of government.

Johnny Kampis is an investigative reporter for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation. He wrote this for InsideSources.com. Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.