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CONTACT: David Fish
September 9, 2004
(202) 289-8928
Regulating the Internet - Experts Transcribed
MCI, Verizon and Comcast Execs. Plus Nakahata and Thierer

WASHINGTON D.C. - Despite the dynamism of the technological environment, some continue to urge that broadband Internet providers - cable and phone companies, etc. - be regulated to guarantee 'Net neutrality' and prohibit 'discriminatory' conduct. Should the FCC enact regulations? The best 'yes' and 'no' answers to that question are in a new paper being released by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. It is based on this summer's conference that featured top corporate, FCC, legal and academic experts.

Reacting to a presentation by Vanderbilt Law School Professor Christopher S. Yoo, "The Economics of Net Neutrality: Why the Physical Layer Should Not Be Regulated," a panel of industry and academic experts offered varying perspectives. Participants included Rick Whitt , senior director of global policy and planning for MCI, C. Lincoln Hoewing, VP of Internet & Technology Policy Development at Verizon, Joe Waz, VP of external affairs and public policy counsel at Comcast Corporation, John Nakahata, partner in the law firm of Harris Wiltshire & Grannis (and former FCC chief of staff) and Adam Thierer, director of telecommunications studies at Cato Institute. Serving as moderator was Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow and Director of Communications Policy Studies Randolph J. May. The following are highlights of the exchange:

Whitt: "Professor Yoo's notion of a national broadband market is contrary both to established precedent at the FCC as well as common sense... Predictions about whether and when certain technologies may or may not be successfully deployed, or seen by consumers as adequate substitutes, or subscribed to by real live customers, are not an adequate basis for market power analysis."

Hoewing: "The important thing we're trying to point out here is there are competitors at all of these layers. Some of them are equipment makers. Some of them actually have networks. Some of them make routers applications and software makers. The point is that all of these players have to work together to get the packets to the customer. We all have incentives to work together. So the idea that we're going to actively try to interfere with the traffic and try to degrade some of these services intentionally is just not feasible and not plausible."

Waz: "[I]f the government winds up diverting its time and resources into imposing Network Neutrality or regulating broadband networks under layer regulation theories instead of focusing on ways to open up new opportunities to invest in broadband networks, we'll have a self-fulfilling prophecy. There will be fewer competing networks and government will never get out of the business of regulating."

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.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation