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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

ATR/CEI update on Internet access

The FCC is currently in the process of developing a National Broadband strategy. Being that this is under the Obama administration, this strategy is unlikely to be a sensible one. Early word suggests that the administration plans to take the Internet in this country and consolidate it into a single, centralized, government-run entity. ‘Competition’ will be allowed, but only under strict government controls and over government wires. Just like in China.

There’s no coincidence there, either. Obama’s good buddy and source of advice Google is well-acquainted with being a tool of totalitarianism. I’m all for the profit motive in general, but Google lets it trump basic human rights when it does whatever the fascist dictatorship in China tells it to. Google loves it because the reduced competition acts as a subsidy for favored firms such as itself, and now it wants the same to happen in our country through its ‘Net Neutrality’ plan, which the Obama FCC just might start to promote.

Americans for Tax Reform and the Competitive Enterprise Institute held a conference call today to detail their opposition to such efforts.

Your reporter was able to listen in on that this morning, and while I disagree with some of their advice, I think they have a clear idea of what’s going on, and what should be done about it.

Fundamentally, the left is pushing a particular lie: that ‘broadband’ Internet access in America is ‘lagging’ through ‘market failure.’ Especially in rural areas, the left claims that only through totalitarian government can the Internet be properly managed. All decisions made with respect to the physical capital of the Internet must go through the State, as must all policies regulating what runs over those wires and fibers. That is the Google ‘net neutrality’ principle that Obama’s FCC is leaning toward.

However the facts used to draw their far-left conclusions simply aren’t there. Pew Research did a survey on ‘broadband’, and found that of those who don’t have it, 33% didn’t want it, and 20% found it too difficult or confusing to have an opinion. That’s right, a majority of the people Obama wants your tax dollars to subsidize, don’t even want the subsidy.

Will that change? Quite possibly. But when it does, guess what? Those new market demands will make it feasble for companies like Verizon and AT&T to deploy new LTE techology to bring the latest in high-speed Internet access to those homes and businesses. But not before the people want it, should it be done. That’s just common sense.

In less rural areas, the leading problem is purely government. As I’ve written in the past, government-mandated franchise agreements are the leading impediment to price-lowering and service-improving competition in the US Internet market. Local goverments huddle together with cable and phone providers, scratch each others backs in special agreements, and shut out the local residents from getting any other choices. However this is a matter for the states to fix, not the FCC. This is federalism at its worst, but it is federalism. It’s not Washington’s place to dictate to the states just because we think they’re wrong.

So Americans interested in a free market and a free Internet should contact the FCC about its Request for Inquiry on ‘broadband’ Internet, which ends June 8. In other countries, and in other markets, when Government places burdensome restrictions on an industry, that industry often withers and dies. The Government then steps in to replace that market with something new and completely socialist. Let’s not let it happen to the Internet.

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