We've covered the FCC's dance with Net Neutrality and Title II regulation for ISPs in the past, and it looks like chairman Pai has come out with a few more statements about the return to a future of deregulated internet regional monopolies. The FCC is in full propaganda mode today, churning out piles of information (or misinformation) on the subject after Pai announced his plans to stop ISPs from following Title II regulations. Companies like Verizon are more than excited to jump on the bandwagon for deregulation, too. After all, captive markets are profitable markets, and now the FCC is happy to support them.
Ajit Pai issued a statement today at a speech he gave in DC in which he pledged to gut his forebear's Title II net neutrality regulations. The FCC also pushed out a bunch of newspeak meant to support their decision, with fanciful titles like "Restoring Internet Freedom for All Americans" and a humorously distorted page on "Internet Regulation: Myths vs. Facts." Among the reasons cited for Pai's move to deregulate ISPs were expanded access to internet, increased competition, an increase in jobs, and increased privacy for internet users. This week must be all about bullshit, because not any of this makes any sense.
Competition would be nice if, you know, ISPs actually engaged in it.
Let's start with expanded access. Without Title II regulations, preexisting markets could be stifled by the potential creation of fast-lanes and traffic prioritization. It also curbs protections that prevent an ISP from interfering with or censoring a customer's access. As for ISPs expanded access via new markets, without Title II any new market just guarantees a monopoly of the same earlier prioritization and interference, since any infrastructure like utility poles will be considered private. This leads us to the role of competition in the market of broadband ISPS.
Competition would be nice if, you know, ISPs actually engaged in it. The only markets that see any are places in which companies like Google Fiber, municipal projects, and other disruptive competitors enter by taking advantage of Title II regulations. These are regulations that are supposed to decrease costs for competitors to build out a network in an area with a pre-existing monopoly, and they are the same regulations that Pai claims are preventing competition.
As for jobs, wouldn't allowing more competitors into the market through Title II as discussed above create them? How does keeping existing ISP monopolies intact seem a better way to spur hiring? There's nothing preventing companies like Comcast and Charter from providing jobs now, for instance by building out to enter into competitors' markets, or upgrading their networks things like gigabit speeds in preexisting ones. But, the only markets in which any of these companies actually have done those things are those where they're seeing new competition as a result of Title II.
Nothing in Title II did anything to take away privacy from users, so I'm at a loss to explain how it might be regained. I'm also more than a bit suspicious considering Pai's plan reverses the FCC's previous privacy protections and moves the responsibility of regulation to the FTC which can't make any rules preventing ISPs from selling your personal information.
Regardless, none of these explanations matter for exactly why Title II is bad for consumers. It's enough for the FCC to push through changes that arguably benefit ISPs much more than they do consumers. This news probably doesn't bode too well for those us (like myself) trapped in an area with a single-provider monopoly. I just hope my city can fight hard enough to get a municipal fiber plan together.