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Op-Ed: Why Netflix and YouTube Aren’t Breaking the Internet in the United States

As broadband networks around the world start to creak under the weight of work from home and other social distancing practices, it is a bit surprising that one country has been left out of the headlines: the United States. We’ve been told for years that our broadband infrastructure is poor and that we pay too much for too little service. Look to Europe, they said. Maintain Title II regulation (“net neutrality”) or it will be the end of the internet as we know it, they said.

But it’s been more than two years since the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal Title II and re-classified broadband as a Title I service. In the intervening period, the internet has not been destroyed. You don’t have to pay for individual Google searches, as some predicted. Broadband speeds are faster than ever. And we have yet to see headlines about increased usage forcing companies to throttle their video streaming services.

Yes, prices are lower in Europe – but so is investment, because forcing broadband providers to share their infrastructure with competitors gives them less economic incentive to improve that infrastructure. Over time, that lower investment has led to lower-quality services — a reality brought into stark relief when Europe asked YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming services to downgrade their content to prevent the internet from breaking. How did it come to this?

Read the full piece here.

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