Aaaaaahhhh!!! We’re all gonna die!
At least that’s what my inbox told me. I received dozens of statements from Internet providers, content companies, industry lobby groups and open Internet lobby shops weighing in on the FCC’s new, revised, latest, really-this-is-the-last-time-we-do this plan for Net neutrality.
Apparently, the FCC just poisoned the water supply, unleashed its nuclear arsenal and summoned the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
These are actual statements I received in the past 18 hours:
"It’s a corporate giveaway." "It will harm consumers and stifle network investment." "The net neutrality regime proposed today by the FCC will endanger competition, innovation, network investment, and consumer welfare." "It is an unwanted and unwarranted exercise in agency hubris." "The FCC is using dubious legislative authority." "This represents a checkmate by the phone and cable companies." "This proposal retreats from real consumer protections."
There aren’t many things I actively hate in life, but two are cantaloupe and doomsday scenarios.
Let’s face it: The broadband companies have done a pretty admirable job in the past decade of providing more-than-adequate service without any regulation. But let’s also recognize that the explosion of online video is going to be an enormous bandwidth burden that could disrupt service quality.
A little regulation that says “you have to treat all content equally” will force broadband providers to increase their bandwidth and network speeds — something that will benefit consumers, even if their prices go up somewhat. But a decision not to enforce the much more stringent ”Title II” regulation would seem to be a reasonable compromise, acknowledging that broadband companies shouldn’t be punished, since they haven’t done anything wrong.
To be fair, there were a small handful of reasonable statements I received yesterday.
"This is very sensible." "It’s a workable balance." "The proposal is a commonsense compromise." "We believe the Chairman’s plan will be broadly supported." "We believe any action in this area is unnecessary … but the proposed rules are less onerous than previous proposals."
Net neutrality is a serious, but hard-to-understand issue. Let’s all be reasonable and construct an Internet policy framework for the future, rather than try to scare the not-so-tech-savvy public into thinking that broadband companies are going to pick and choose what websites you can visit or pretend that regulation will send your monthly bill up $50 a month.
That’s what the FCC did on Wednesday, and it should be commended for that. -David