Op-eds and Articles

Surgery on a Healthy Patient

By / 6.12.2014

As Congress considers new Internet openness rules to replace the “net neutrality” regulations recently struck down by the courts, critics of U.S. broadband have called for a major overhaul of how we regulate the net. At the extreme, they seek a complete “reclassification” of the Internet as nothing more than a juiced-up telephone, thereby moving it from modern rules that apply to information services to the “common carrier” rules that applied to the Bell system. They contend this would allow for stronger “open internet” protections and improve the speed of, and access to, the web.

This radical surgery is needed, they argue, because the American Internet is purportedly monopolized by a handful of providers and, as a result, is too slow and too expensive. If we don’t act now, some critics predict we’ll soon be “a third world country” online.

Is this radical surgery necessary? Or are the critics like the practitioners who intervene even when no treatment is needed? In a research paper published this week by the Progressive Policy Institute, I investigated the state of the U.S. Internet, and found it getting faster, more affordable, and more competitive. Whatever merit there may have been to such criticisms when they were first levied almost a decade ago, U.S. broadband has clearly left them in its tracks.

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