WASHINGTON—Progressive Policy Institute Senior Fellow and Economist Hal Singer today served as a panelist for an Open Internet roundtable discussion hosted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The roundtable, titled “Economics of Broadband: Market Successes and Market Failures,” first considered incentives to provide high quality open Internet access service and the relevance of market power. It then turned to policies to address market power, consumer protection, and shared benefits of the Internet.
Singer has long called for the FCC to eschew the heavy-handed approach of Title II regulation, and lean instead on its Section 706 authority to regulate potential abuses by ISPs on a case-by-case basis. Investment across both edge and content providers, he argues, will be greater compared to Title II, and the FCC can avoid any unintended consequences, such as creeping regulation, that encompasses content providers or other ISP services. Even an imperfect case-by-case approach to Internet discrimination is better and less costly than blanket prohibition, according to Singer.
“I would like to make five simple points in favor of a case-by-case approach to adjudicating discrimination complaints on the Internet,” Singer said in his remarks. “First, economists and engineers who have studied the issue of priority service unanimously believe that a market for priority could be a good thing for all parties to the transaction, including broadband customers. Second, not only do all parties to the priority transaction benefit, no third party is worse off with priority.
“Third, the leading proponent of strong net neutrality acknowledged in last week’s FCC Roundtable that priority could be a good thing so long as it is user-directed and users pick up the tab. Fourth, even if the FCC wanted to ban priority outright, there is no guarantee that Title II is up for the task. Fifth, the critiques of case-by-case should not persuade the Commission to embrace a blanket prohibition on priority.”
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