JANUARY 2015 The Costco Connection 21
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Is the United States
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Roslyn Layton is an American Ph.D. Fellow at the Center for Communication, Media and Information Studies at Aalborg University in Denmark.
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ONE DEFINITION of
net neutrality is the freedom for an Internet user
to connect to any Internet
content, application or
service. This is uncontroversial, and Internet service providers already
agree to uphold this principle.
Using their own definitions, however, companies such as Netflix hijack the language of net
neutrality to lobby for regulatory favors. They
want the government to mandate that the transit costs they pay for today become free. In the
offline world, such a deal would mean that
retailers could not negotiate agreements with
their suppliers or even where products could be
placed on shelves.
This campaign intensified when President
Obama called for the Internet to be regulated
under Title II of the Communications Act of
1934. Title II would effectively give control of the
Internet to the federal government, allowing it to
monitor networks and set prices. For starters,
expect a price increase due to new federal, state
and local fees on your Internet subscription.
Regulation proponents argue that without
such rules your Internet provider would speed
up or slow down websites. There have never
been rules against this, but Internet providers
don’t do it anyway. Simply put, the business
opportunity to deliver an open Internet is far
greater. Failing that, antitrust laws deter dis-
criminatory behavior, already ensuring net neu-
trality. Of the billions of Internet experiences
every day, there are only two minor net neutral-
ity violations on record. They were resolved
swiftly with existing rules.
Many Americans oppose Internet regulation. Recently, 60 tech companies and 100
American manufacturers—including IBM,
Intel and Black & Decker—warned that Title II
regulation would harm the economy and
Americans, just 4 percent of the world’s
population, enjoy a quarter of the world’s private
investment in Internet infrastructure and drive
one-third of the world’s Internet traffic. This
investment delivers 5 percent of gross domestic
product and employs 10 percent of America’s
workforce, 11 million Americans. The unregulated Internet allows almost half of America’s
employed to work from home and countless
companies to grow. Fifteen of the world’s top 25
Internet companies are American.
With more high-speed wireless connections
than any country, the U.S. is the hotbed of mobile
innovation. Do we need government regulations
to preserve net neutrality? No. The Internet in
America works extraordinarily well. C
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Apek Mulay is a senior analyst and macroeconomist in the semicon-
ductor industry and author of the book Mass Capitalism: A Blueprint for
Economic Revival (Book Publishers Network, 2014).
IN JANUARY 2014, the
big Internet service providers used their lobbying muscle to get the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia to
overturn the “net neutrality” rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). President Obama
said he wants to prevent Internet service providers from giving preference to or discriminating against certain types of online traffic.
Protecting net neutrality from the influence of
big money has been a wise decision by our current president.
Net neutrality is crucial in a true free-market enterprise system. With such a system the
size of government remains small and the power
of business remains in check. Since there is a
healthy competition among businesses, the
costs are driven down for end consumers.
A world without net neutrality allows
Internet monopolies, which would impose
time-sensitive packets, making it possible for
big money to pay more money to have their
Internet packets placed ahead of the queue and
be given preferential treatment, even if the content is the same as on other sites.
In this climate, if net neutrality is not protected, small businesses in all industries that rely
on the Internet will be negatively affected. Large
corporations with deep pockets could ultimately
access data at faster speeds than competitors
with less capital. Small businesses would start
experiencing slower speeds and higher prices.
Consumer prices would be driven up. What’s
more, we wouldn’t have the next Google,
Facebook, Twitter, etc., which were once, believe
it or not, small businesses. The Internet would
no longer be a free and fair medium; big money
would win the game.
If we want a healthy free-market enterprise
system, we need to foster a healthy economic
environment that allows for the rise of talented
entrepreneurs. Net neutrality is key to this. The
alternative undercuts innovative services and
the growth of small businesses.
It’s clear that President Obama will face significant obstacles to most of his agenda, including his efforts to maintain net neutrality.
However, the president is absolutely correct in
calling on the FCC to impose “the strongest
possible rules” to protect net neutrality and prohibit Internet service providers from favoring
some content over others, and thus avoid the
creation of Internet industry monopolies. C