Patrick Hunter’s August 1, 2010 article in CedMagazine.com raises two important points. The first point goes to the definition of network neutrality. Net neutrality proponents have been diluting the definition of net neutrality over the past few months. It’s gone from treating all traffic equally to a civil rights issue for consumers to, according to Google, equal treatment of like traffic.
For example, Google wants a content provider’s video traffic treated like every other content provider’s video traffic as opposed to the Color of Change definition, where Color of Change’s text traffic would be given the same treatment as Google’s traffic.
The FCC should focus on a definition of net neutrality that emphasizes the distribution of Internet traffic where network managers ensure efficient flow of traffic while protecting their networks and eventually the messages themselves from attack.
Given that, with two questionable exceptions, broadband access providers have been able to provide consumers with seamless transmission of traffic without additional rules, the FCC should focus on overseeing a market that in actuality is not a duopoly. This FCC seems so fixated with a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to regulation, that it is now projecting itself to be non-aligned with the flexibility and innovation of the broadband access markets.
This observation leads us to the second point. Given, according to Mr. Hunter’s analysis, that only half of broadband access is attributable to cable modem and digital subscriber line technology, the FCC should re-engineer its own approach to market oversight. The FCC should consider the broadband access market competitive and address Internet access and consumer protection issues on a case-by-case basis.
The fact that the Internet has become a robust engine for economic growth and a pipeline for expression of speech and ideas should give the FCC pause from implementing additional rules rather than an incentive to rush into house that is not burning simply because someone is yelling, “I think I smell smoke.“