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The Internet’s 51 New Regulators

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Jessica Chasmar
Wall St Journal
May 16, 2014

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler went ahead with his proposal on Thursday to give his agency the power to decide whether the terms and prices of broadband Internet services are “reasonable.” That’s bad enough as political discretion, but according to dissenting Commissioner Ajit Pai, regulators from every state will also be able to get into the act.

Mr. Wheeler’s goal is to satisfy the “net neutrality” supporters demanding that every broadband customer receive the same deal, no matter how much bandwidth they consume. Backed by two other Democrats, Mr. Wheeler said he prefers the “reasonable” pricing standard. But he also suggested another, even worse option to regulate broadband prices: reclassifying Internet connections as “telecommunications services.”

For two decades Congress has wisely refused to give the FCC the same power over the Internet that it holds over the telephone system. And for two decades the Internet has enabled a gusher of creativity that was unimaginable over a century of regulated telephony. Mr. Wheeler’s brainstorm to change all this is simply to pretend the Internet is a phone network.

This would apply to today’s broadband networks common-carrier rules that were designed for monopoly telephone companies—and created decades before the inventors of smart phones and social media were even born. Since this designation would automatically impose myriad obligations that have nothing to do with current customer needs—and that many modern firms could not possibly fulfill—the commission would then have to issue a flurry of exemptions (“forbearance” in FCC parlance) to prevent chaos in the market for Internet connections.

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This article was posted: Friday, May 16, 2014 at 4:48 am





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