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’Net Access: Will Lawmakers Listen?

2015 01 23   Peter Feinstein   Media and Regualtion    

Two congressional committees considered Wednesday whether Internet service providers (ISPs) should be regulated and, if so, how.

Here is the news account from USA Today:

There must a way to prevent ISPs from throttling data streams, and assure stable prices across the entire industry, without hampering their ability to invest in infrastructure and reap the benefits.

Many Republicans have been out of touch with the people they represent. As the USA Today item notes:

“In the past, Republican lawmakers have generally sided with large ISPs, [saying] new FCC rules aren’t needed because competition and consumer demand would dictate how services are sold. But they’ve been caught off guard by the visceral and overwhelmingly pro-net neutrality consumer reaction among their constituents, who see the issue beyond the political battle lines.”

The folks back home are telling lawmakers that ISPs are utilities. Period.

Oh, and if you think they’re not, then all you have to do is read Verizon’s panic-induced rant about pursuing litigation. No one in a position of strength uses that tactic; the posturing demonstrates Verizon’s clear understanding that it already has lost.

And Sprint further confirms the correctness of the utility classification, underscoring the fact that they will continue investment. You think Verizon, AT&T or other ISPs are going to stand by and watch Sprint invest without acting in-kind? Not likely.

I don’t know what the answer is, because whatever path is taken is going to be fraught and fought with egos, virtually assuring that no one gets what they really want. Yet, in the final analysis, everyone really wants the same thing; it’s a matter of sitting down without hidden agendas and working through the process of coming to an understanding.