L. Gordon Cravitz explains how the feds’ new control over the Internet is already fouling the works. Except for lobbyists and lawyers, who always prosper from government interference.
Say, John Oliver, your ignorant loudmouth at HBO helped make this happen. Go back to England, you tool.
‘No, no, no, no!” Tom Wheeler shouted at the moderator. The Federal Communications Commission chairman was speaking at an Internet industry conference in March, soon after the FCC voted to regulate the Internet. His bureaucrats, he insisted, would never set rates, rule on tariffs or otherwise treat the Internet like an old-fashioned utility.
Make that “Yes, yes, yes, yes!”
The regulations went into effect earlier this month, and the Washington Post last week got word about the first federal complaint to be filed. A company that streams live video wants regulators to set the price it pays to transport its content—at zero.
The complainant is Commercial Network Services, whose video streams travel smoothly over networks thanks to the multibillion-dollar industry that provides the connections through content-delivery networks and peering and transit services. These “fast lanes” make the Internet possible by ensuring bandwidth-hogging uses such as video don’t slow everything else down. Netflix and YouTube, which at peak times use most of the Internet’s bandwidth, even built their own proprietary fast lanes. The FCC now claims authority over the entire system, and Mr. Wheeler’s assurances to the contrary were known to be false when he made them.
Among Mr. Wheeler’s whoppers: He claimed in Wired magazine: “There will be no rate regulation.” The FCC’s fact sheet on the new regulations repeated the claim, adding that “broadband providers shall not be subject” to rate regulation and that the new rules don’t include “utility-style rate regulation.”
The truth is that the core of President Obama’s demand for change is the replacement of technologists operating freely in the market with rules and rates set by bureaucrats. The language of Obamanet was lifted from regulations governing railroads in the 1880s and the phone system in the 1930s. Bureaucrats will decide if “charges” and other “practices” on the Internet are “fair and reasonable.” That vague “reasonable” is the most litigated term in utility regulation. The FCC also introduced an undefined “general conduct rule” for the Internet in case price regulations don’t give its bureaucrats enough power.
The accused party in the streaming-video case, Time Warner Cable, said: “We are confident that the FCC will reject any complaint that is premised on the notion that every edge provider around the globe is entitled to enter into a settlement-free peering arrangement.” They have no reason to be. FCC bureaucrats can now overrule private network engineers and developers.
Expect more companies to demand similar favors from bureaucrats. If Obamanet had been in effect earlier, competitors would have objected to Amazon’s deal with Sprint that enabled instant delivery of e-books on the Kindle. Regulators could have rejected the iPhone for bundling Internet access with phone service. Newspapers could have lobbied regulators to block free news sites as “unfairly” priced…