Hey, Whose Internet is it Anyway? / by FPM Team

  • Last week, U.S. President Obama said, “An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.”  In addition, “the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.” 
  • In response, AT&T’s CEO  Randall Stephenson said it would slow down its investments in high-speed fiber-optic broadband networks and “We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed.” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said, "We're trying to work with the FCC, Congress and the administration to forge an outcome all stakeholders can live with and doesn't harm the innovation cycle." Cisco System CEO John Chambers "It would be a very disappointing end result if we moved back to regulation of the Internet like we did voice many decades ago…If [Internet Service providers] can't make money on broadband, they won't build it out." 

OUR TAKE

  • The lack of satisfaction with U.S.  Internet service providers and the diminishing competition in this market has triggered significant debates and, among other things, led to the popular video “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality (HBO)” http://bit.ly/1rBJsP4. 
  • It is likely that oversight under Title II will be more benign than its supporters and detractors predict. 
  • While the Internet’s origins come from U.S. government funded projects, the road ahead will likely be driven by business interests - unless there is either increased consumer activism or a major disruption of service that would increase pressure for government intervention.