Foundation Experts See No Case for Internet Regulations
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nearly half a year after a policy conference featuring opposing sides of the debate over enacting federal regulation of the Internet to preserve "net neutrality," two experts maintain that proponents have not made a sufficient case in the intervening months to warrant action by policymakers. Their comments coincide with release of a transcript of the June event, "Net Neutrality or Net Neutering: Should Broadband Internet Services Be Regulated?" that features two panel discussions and speeches by Federal Communications Commission and Commerce Department officials.
Randolph J. May and Thomas M. Lenard, both Foundation senior fellows, are releasing the transcript now in order to inform decisions the FCC is about to make. Each remains skeptical of such regulation. "This industry is still in its infancy and we don't know yet what business models will ultimately emerge," Lenard said. "A decision to regulate now would slow the rollout of broadband with potentially large costs for consumers and the economy." May says that "even the advocates of non-discrimination or 'open access-type' regulations agree that cable and telephone broadband providers are not engaging in conduct that causes real-world problems."
The transcript includes May's panel on industry perspectives from officials of Amazon.com, Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Verizon Communications and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, as well as Lenard's panel on economic and policy perspectives, which featured Stanford and U.C. Berkeley economists, a Consumer Federation of America expert and a former FTC official. Also included is the address of W. Kenneth Ferree, chief of the FCC Media Bureau, and the keynote by Hon. Nancy J. Victory, Assistant Secretary of Commerce.
May said he had two significant 'take-aways' from the conference: "The cable sector, with its digital upgrades nearly completed, is now a key part of the high-tech mix, along with other broadband infrastructure providers, equipment manufacturers, ISPs, content providers and software developers." And "consumers will be best served if the various companies contributing to the creation of new broadband services are left free to explore and negotiate mutually satisfactory business arrangements."
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.