Newspaper column: Ending net neutrality speeded up Internet

It has been a year since the Federal Communication Commission repealed net neutrality rules created by Obama’s FCC in 2015. Yet, the Internet miraculously survives. In fact, it is running 36 percent faster now that the meddlesome feds have been removed from the equation and the free market has been allowed to compete and innovate.

Net neutrality resurrected 1930s-style Ma Bell regulations to prohibit Internet service providers from charging anyone different rates, even the bandwidth gluttons such as Netflix and Google.

Back in May the Senate even passed a resolution seeking to bring back net neutrality. Though the effort fortunately stalled, Nevada’s Democratic delegation to D.C. was all for putting the Internet under the heavy hand of the central planners.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto took to the Senate floor in support of the resolution, saying, “Net neutrality has leveled the playing field for every American consumer, allowing everyone to access and enjoy an open Internet. … We can’t afford to repeal net neutrality. (FCC) Chairman (Ajit) Pai’s misguided decision to repeal net neutrality protections threatens to change the Internet as we know it. It threatens our small businesses, access to online education, job growth and innovation by giving those who can afford to pay more the ability to set their own rules.”

Rep. Dina Titus declared, “I agree with the vast majority of Americans who want the internet to promote innovation, access to information, and a competitive economy. All of that is at risk without strong net neutrality protections.”

Getty Image via WSJ

Then-Rep., now-Sen. Jacky Rosen stated, “This administration’s reckless decision to repeal net neutrality gives internet service providers the ability to stack the deck against Nevada’s hardworking families and small businesses who could be forced to pay more to connect to an internet with slower speeds. This resolution would reverse the FCC’s misguided ruling, which places large corporate profits ahead of people, and restore access to a free and open internet for Nevadans.”

Sen. Dean Heller at the time reasonably argued for the free market approach. “I do not want the federal government to determine content. …” Heller said. “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. … Access to free and open internet service providers is especially important for Nevadans living in rural communities.”

Heller was right. Rosen was wrong.

According to Speedtest, fixed broadband speeds in the United States are rapidly increasing. Data for 2018 revealed a 36 percent increase in mean download speed and a 22 percent increase in upload speed. This meant the U.S. ranked seventh in the world for download speed and Nevada ranked seventh in the nation.

Back when the net neutrality rules were jettisoned many in the news media predicted doom and gloom. CNN declared it was “the end of the internet as we know it.”

But The Wall Street Journal correctly stated at the time that net neutrality created uncertainty about what the FCC would allow and thus throttled investment in new technology, because it prohibited paid prioritization — under which bandwidth hogs, such as video streaming companies, could have opted out of heavy traffic and switched to a toll road — which could increase profits to pay for innovation and greater speed.

The newspaper predicted both content providers and consumers would benefit from increased investment in faster wireless and fiber technology in the free market.

The invisible hand of the free market has again proven itself superior to the heavy hand of the central planners.

As economist Milton Friedman once said: “When government — in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.”

Be forewarned, when Democrats take control of the House, expect another ill-advised attempt to resurrect net neutrality, despite empirical evidence to the contrary.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

9 comments on “Newspaper column: Ending net neutrality speeded up Internet

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think the democrats have other more pressing business to attend to for now, although a Bill forcing republicans to vote to support what is overwhelmingly dis favored in this country (Trumps net policy) will be offered to show how out of touch republicans are about this issue.

    It’s the long war strategy obviously since the chances that this policy is reversed are very small but in two years, when those republican senators are fighting for their political lives, it will be one more vote they will have to defend to their constituents that are overwhelmingly against that vote.

    First up though might be a vote on a law forbidding presidents from pardoning themselves. Let the games begin anew!

  2. Anonymous says:

    As of April 2018, 86% of voters favored rules requiring Net Neutrality. Astonishingly even republicans overwhelmingly supported these rules. With these numbers, which have only increased since this administration changed the rules, the New Democratic majority in the House, will be sure to force republicans to vote against what even their constituents overwhelmingly favor.

    “Since the December 14 FCC decision to repeal the requirements that Internet service providers abide by net neutrality, the FCC continued to promote their decision as a means for promoting Internet innovation and have parried criticism that it will drive up costs for consumers saying that the Federal Trade Commission will be in a position to protect against unfair practices. However, a new survey finds that overwhelming bipartisan opposition persists even when presented the FCC arguments as well as opposing arguments.

    Eighty-six percent oppose the repeal of net neutrality, including 82% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats. This is up slightly from a survey conducted during the run-up to the December decision when 83% were opposed. Opposition among Republicans has increased from 75% to 82%, while Democrats have held steady.”

  3. Tyranny of the majority?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Tyranny of Majority > Tyranny of the minority.

  5. Steve says:

    Speeds go up. Service gets better.

    Can’t have any of that. No sir.

  6. Anonymous says:

    From the sixth paragraph: “Then Rep. Jacky Rosen, now a senator-elect, stated …” As of yesterday, she’s a Senator, no longer a Senator-elect.

  7. Rincon says:

    My baloney detector is blaring long and loud.

    1) From PC Magazine: “Net neutrality wouldn’t be a big deal if we had a choice of ISPs in the US. But data from Ookla Speedtest Intelligence shows that most Americans do not.”

    My own town is a good example. It has had only one provider available for years, and is only now in the process of adding a second, so that we can enjoy the benefits of a duopoly, which is a monopoly with a wink. Can anyone with a brain call that a competitive environment?

    So Thomas’ assertions break down where the rubber hits the road. Capitalism without meaningful competition just doesn’t work, and there is too little meaningful competition among ISPs in this country for capitalism to function properly.

    2) Speeds increased. Big deal. Does anyone think speeds are going down anywhere? My best bet is that speeds have risen every year since the Internet began. I think it’s also obvious that it is unlikely that anyone can gear up fast enough to radically increase the speed of the Internet in a year’s time, i.e., it is likely that much of the speed increase was in the pipeline before Net neutrality was destroyed.

    3) Did median speed increase or was it the mean? For example, when comparing incomes, the U.S. ranks very high in income for mean income, but is outranked by many countries in median income. What good is it if the Internet mean speed rises while the median speed falls?

    4) What about Internet prices? Extra speed is no good if we pay through the nose for it.

    5) Limited assets are rarely, if ever sold on an unlimited use basis, so why do providers actually promote unlimited use packages if bandwidth is so limited? If bandwidth is a problem, the obvious answer is to charge by the terrabyte. When the cost is no greater to leave a video running, people will often make no effort to turn it off when no one’s watching. My wife is a great example. She often runs You Tube videos without watching them just to provide ambient noise. I watch what ISPs do, not what they say. What they do says that bandwidth is as great as they want it to be at this time. Otherwise, they would change their pricing structure.

    6) As with the pharmaceutical companies, price gouging won’t occur in the early years, so why crow about it when it doesn’t show up instantly? Power needs to be consolidated and reinforced first. The gouging will come in due time. Conservatives often think in terms of the next quarter and ignore the long term.

    7) As for tyranny of the majority, Thomas, do you really think we have a flourishing democracy when the powers that be ignore the opinions of large majorities of voters on multiple occasions without consequence? It is the shortest of short term thinking to support this phenomenon just because the power brokers ignoring the will of the people agree with you on this particular occasion.

  8. Steve says:

    Last mile issues.

    How many wires you gonna have coming to your abode?

    One for each ISP is the rule. Depending on the protocall, LTE uses 1 or 2 frequencies for data. Radio spectrum is limited as well as pole space for wires.

    But net neutrality did nothing to break up big cable/phone for internet access. All it did was supposedly make it easier for small content providers to come online. In practice net neutrality actually made it much harder for new content to get online. Netflix Google and Amazon loved Net Neutrality because it kept them in charge. Now we are seeing content from all over the place.

    Read what rurals are doing with 4G now, at costs that make 80 a month for internet access look like chicken feed. But they are getting some really good thruput.

    But Iowa Wireless is the best. As long as you are a state resident who is actually in state most of the time.
    From a friend who used to be on their plan, until he moved away from Iowa (and they figured it out, he’s an active RV’r):

    “They were a T-Mobile affiliate until September of this year (2018) when T-Mobile bought them out. They make money hand over fist lighting up the entire state — mostly because the telephone “coops” all over the state were all Iowa Wireless dealers and they found it easier to put cellular on the farms than lay the last mile. And the “unlimited plans”! My God, they’re truly unlimited.”
    ” I had an unlimited 3G data plan until they kicked me off in 2011 for being out-of-state too often. If I’d been in Iowa I’d still be on that plan and it’d be killer. (sigh) I miss Iowa Wireless.”

    And this way prior any so called “net neutrality” rules. Iowa Wireless, founded in 1997, is a private company under T Mobile and Iowa Network Services Inc.

    With 5G coming along, perhaps we might see some real competition for service. But radio spectrum remains as limited as space for wires on poles to your home.
    You really need to understand the tech before tackling this issue and Net Neutrality was not what was sold to us in all the reports. It was big cable/phone solidifying their control of government regulation at our expense. But it came from “The Obama” so it had to be good, huh.

  9. Steve says:

    No “Net Neutrality” yet this is happening now.

    And things are going to get much better because the marketplace is flexing its muscle. Big cable is losing its stranglehold on video delivery.

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