Editorial: Free market is better for the Internet

The debate continues over whether the Federal Communications Commission’s December repeal of the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” rule will help or hurt rural communities’ bid for greater access to high-speed Internet service, and now it has become an issue in this year’s race for a Nevada U.S. Senate seat.

Recently there was a vote in the Senate using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in an attempt to restore net neutrality rules. The vote was 52-47 with every Democrat and three Republicans voting in favor. Nevada’s senior Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, voted against it.

Its chances of clearing the House are slim and President Trump would likely veto it anyway.

Las Vegas Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, who is running for Heller’s seat and is likely to advance to November after the June 12 primary, proudly announced in a press release that she signed a discharge petition to force a vote in the House on the Senate-approved CRA to restore net neutrality protections.

In a recent interview, Sen. Heller said, “We had a vote last week and I voted against the CRA that would take us back to Title II, which frankly is 1930s-type regulation. If you go back to Ma Bell, for those of you who remember Ma Bell, frankly that’s how  they want to regulate the Internet, and that was reversed.”

Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 concerns “common carriers,” such as phone and power lines. The FCC’s 2015 net neutrality order put the Internet under Title II, rather than under Title I, which covers information providers. Title II prohibits “any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services.” With the repeal of net neutrality by the FCC, the Federal Trade Commission still has authority to police predatory and monopolistic practices.

“Nevada’s hardworking families, small businesses, and students have voiced strong opposition to the Administration’s repeal of net neutrality protections,” Rosen’s press release quoted her as saying. “As Republicans in Washington roll back rules protecting a free and fair internet, I will continue to stand with Nevadans in the fight to keep corporate interests from stacking the deck against regular Nevadans who want a level playing field. I urge my House colleagues to join me in signing this discharge petition.”

How did the Internet survive before 2015?

But Heller, who is a lock to win the GOP primary, insists, “I do not want the federal government to determine content. … I also don’t want the federal government to tax the Internet. I believe the Internet is the last bastion of freedom in America, frankly both good and bad, but it’s freedom. You put this thing back under Title II and eventually this government will determine content and this government will tax it, and that’s what I am trying to avoid.”

Before the FCC canned net neutrality, Rosen had argued, “Undoing net neutrality will hurt our economy and will make it harder for startups and Americans to conduct their business, stifling innovation and growth. Access to free and open internet service providers is especially important for Nevadans living in rural communities.”

Heller counters by saying, “We are going to provide — I think it is a free market stance — in that we want there to be more competition out there. Under Title II you lose the kind of competition that is necessary for technology to advance.”

Heller said he is working on legislation that would encourage expansion of rural broadband service, but also, “I do believe that if you put too many restrictions on access to the Internet all you are going to do is deprive it of the ability to grow and the technology to advance, and that would include the ability to get out to rural areas.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial at the time of the FCC repeal of net neutrality noted that the rule had throttled investment. But, anticipating repeal, Verizon Wireless had said it will start delivering high-speed broadband to homes over its wireless network late this year, and Google and AT&T were experimenting with similar services that would be cheaper than laying cable underground. “This could be a boon for rural America,” the paper said.

Free markets will find the way, not the heavy hand of government regulators.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

11 comments on “Editorial: Free market is better for the Internet

  1. Rincon says:

    One of my greatest criticisms of American politics is that we continually try to reinvent the wheel. Other countries have far better Internet services than we do. Is there nobody in this ideologically fractured country that is willing to see what has already worked for others? Of course not! We Americans all sit around theorizing and assiduously ignore what has already proven to work.

    Forbes says that South Korea’s #1 rated Internet service is primarily market based, but it appears that it could never have been established in this country because Conservatives would have objected violently to policies needed to make it happen. For example, South Korea created three government agencies to regulate the industry: The Korea Information Security Agency (KISA), the Korea Internet Safety Commission, and the National Internet Development Agency. Portugal and Guatemala lack Internet neutrality as Conservatives would have it, and the results are horrible. https://www.forbes.com/sites/outofasia/2018/01/26/south-koreas-internet-infrastructure-shows-the-fcc-how-neutrality-should-be-done/#59b8983f581b
    https://www.itif.org/files/2008BBAppendixF.pdf

    Price differentials are only possible if there is a shortage of needed bandwidth; otherwise, no one would pay a premium for better access. This means that it would be to the disadvantage of a deregulated industry to make Internet access as abundant as possible. There’s much more money to be made by creating and maintaining bottlenecks designed so that only those who pay a premium can get around them. Paying off the appropriate politicians will see to it that these bottlenecks will be perfectly legal. Thus, as with the past 40 years under Conservative policies, the United States will continue its descent into the Third World.

  2. noodle35 says:

    Keep up your good work shedding light on happenings

    Jim Gregory 775-934-5995 jim@weststates.org

    >

  3. Rincon says:

    Looking back on it, I misstated myself. We aren’t so much descending into the Third World so much as the rest of the world has progressed and we are stagnating. Thus, we aren’t really descending, just treading water.

    Theoretically, it would be wonderful for people to be able to purchase discounted Internet service for a small sacrifice in speed, but in this country, the primacy of business interests over those of citizens will ensure that the bottom end of service will be truly abysmal. It’s also a sure bet that prices will be higher due to a likely lack of true competition. This will only add yet another millstone around the necks of the lower half.

    Class mobility used to be one of our great strengths. It is now one of the great strengths of other countries. We have either stagnated or declined in this respect, while ironically, class mobility in many of those despised “socialist” countries is much superior to ours. I thought you guys said class mobility in socialistic countries was very low. I musta misheard.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socioeconomic_mobility_in_the_United_States

  4. Anonymous says:

    Another “victory” for free markets.

    “”In the midst of our response to the Mendocino Complex Fire, County Fire discovered the data connection for OES 5262 was being throttled by Verizon, and data rates had been reduced to 1/200, or less, than the previous speeds,” Bowden wrote. “These reduced speeds severely interfered with the OES 5262’s ability to function effectively. My Information Technology staff communicated directly with Verizon via email about the throttling, requesting it be immediately lifted for public safety purposes.”

    Verizon did not immediately restore full speeds to the device, however.

    “Verizon representatives confirmed the throttling, but rather than restoring us to an essential data transfer speed, they indicated that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost, and they would only remove throttling after we contacted the Department that handles billing and switched to the new data plan,” Bowden wrote.”

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/08/verizon-throttled-fire-departments-unlimited-data-during-calif-wildfire/

  5. Steve says:

    Fixed for you Patrick

    Yet another victory for bureaucratic oversight. Someone should have paid the bill on time.

  6. Should’ve purchased an adequate data plan.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sick.

    But it does remind me of a skit from the movie “Airplane” (classic “conservative” “wisdom”). And the actor does does bear a resemblance to someone I know of; anyone else see it?

  8. Steve says:

    Ahh, the claim they “bought” their service….but they failed to ensure that service was enough to fill their needs.
    As usual, the modern, liberal “solution” is if you didn’t pay for it, take it! Demand it be GIVEN to you so you can hide your inept original policies. Namely, cronyism.

    They admitted they failed to buy the right plan from the start. Read the whole thing!

  9. Steve says:

    And now, Verizon caves to pressure.
    Turning on full speeds for first responders in disaster incidents.
    Remember when these agencies all had their own comms?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Classic “free markers”; lie cheat steal, gouge, contribute to loss of property and life, THEN when the money that was stolen from the lies that were told is spent, offer up some lame “apology”‘to placate the fools that believe any private company gives a crap about anything other than your money.

    ““In supporting first responders in the Mendocino fire, we didn’t live up to our own promise of service and performance excellence when our process failed some first responders on the line, battling a massive California wildfire,” Mike Maiorana, Verizon’s senior vice president of public sector, said in a statement.

    On Tuesday, Verizon admitted that the incident was a mistake, but maintained that the issue had “nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court.”

    http://thehill.com/policy/technology/403448-verizon-apologizes-for-throttling-fire-departments-data-during-wildfire

    NEVER trust anyone trying to get your money.

  11. Steve says:

    “NEVER trust anyone trying to get your money.”

    Especially those who do so under threats of force…..like governments do.

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