The anti-private property group Free Press believes Title II – which the radicals want imposed on network providers to ensure “real” Net Neutrality – is getting some bad press.  So, it’s embarked on its own press deluge to shore up the idea that heavy-handed government regulations are actually good for investment, noting (in page-after-page of home economics-level “analysis”) that:

“…[C]ommon-carriage rules have coincided with the healthiest periods of investment and growth in the telecommunications sector.”

Um, sure they do, guys.

Here’s my response in a simple graphic:

Snail10

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Houston, we have a problem.

Last week saw a highly unusual letter from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to Verizon, taking issue with the company’s plan to ease wireless data traffic congestion.

As Wheeler writes:

“Your website explained that this was an extension of your ‘Network Optimization’ policy, which, according to your website, applies only to customers with unlimited data plans. Specifically, Verizon Wireless ‘manage[s] data connection speeds for a small subset of customers – the top 5% of data users on unlimited data plans’ in places and at times when the network is experiencing high demand. Verizon Wireless describes its ‘Network Optimization’ as ‘network management.’”

Sounds like Verizon’s making sure the network works, which is a good thing.

The FCC’s transparency rules – the only Net Neutrality rules that are still legal, that is – seem to work, too. As the letter shows, Chairman Wheeler learned about the new policy from Verizon’s own website. No ball-hiding there.

Still, the Chairman remains troubled, stating:

“I know of no past Commission statement that would treat as ‘reasonable network management’ a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for ‘unlimited’ service.”

You can almost see the activists salivating, “Oooh, a Net Neutrality violation. Go get ‘em, Tommy Boy!”

Except, of course, nothing’s happened yet – the plan begins in October. Further, it could turn out that there is no noticeable change / harm experienced by any user as a result of the policy. Moreover, even the Commission has defined “reasonable network management” as that which mitigates the effect of traffic congestion on the network.  It appears that Verizon is attempting to do just that here.

But in the Chairman’s world, one which is being pushed more than ever by the radicals who want everything for free, “unlimited service” seemingly means that the service must remain essentially unchecked or unregulated by the company. To heck with the other 95% of customers who are having a hard time getting connected due to heavy users.   Unlimited means untouchable. Period.

Hogwash.

The Chairman (and taxpayers) would be well served if Verizon could figure this out on its own.  If “unlimited plans” are causing congestion, the company shouldn’t be foreclosed from optimizing the system for its customers.  Network engineers, not FCC bureaucrats, are in the best position to make these judgment calls.  If real harm occurs, it can be adequately addressed after all the facts – not conjecture – are known.

Of course, Verizon (and others) might not be so challenged in serving wireless users if more spectrum were available and secondary markets were more flexible. That said, should the company be thwarted from managing its network as here, imagine what this means for the Chairman’s “commercially reasonable” formula that he’s pushing for the new Net Neutrality rules?

This new and “improved” version of permissionless innovation – a pre-clearance of sorts – will kill the Internet if companies have to go to the FCC to ensure that what they want to do is OK with the agency.

This has always been a concern with the shifty idea known as Net Neutrality.  As WSJ’s L. Gordon Crovitz writes today (in Fast Lanes Saved the Internet):

“‘Net neutrality’ has become a meaningless plaint of ‘Unfair!’ Activist groups in Washington with benign names like Free Press and Public Knowledge want the Internet reclassified as a public utility, subject to the sort of regulations that micromanaged railroad monopolies in the late 19th century and the phone monopoly in the 20th.

“That would spell the end of permissionless innovation on the Internet. Bureaucrats would have authority to dictate how networks operate, which technologies can be used, and what prices can be charged. Regulators would approve or disapprove innovation in business terms as well as in technology. If [a company like] Netflix wanted to charge ISPs for the right to carry its video, regulators and not the market would decide…”

How optimum would that be?

Not very.

Houston should abort Tom Wheeler’s mission.

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In early June, Tom Wheeler touted in a blog post that “I believe that it is in the best interests of consumers and competition that the FCC exercises its power to preempt state laws that ban or restrict competition from community broadband. Given the opportunity, we will do so.”

And like, shazaam, just last Friday, Chattanooga, TN’s municipal broadband provider – EPB – and the City of Wilson, NC petitioned the FCC to preempt / overturn portions of Tennessee and North Carolina law that protect taxpayers by limiting municipally-provided communications services.

Though Tom Wheeler and the petitioners might believe that the FCC can preempt these state laws via Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act – a dubious, untested formula provided by the recent DC Circuit ruling, which struck down core aspects of the agency’s Net Neutrality rules – at least 20 states and their taxpaying voters would beg to differ.

The following video (shot before this news occurred), features Less Government’s Seton Motley as he discusses why this latest proposal stinks for rightfully fearful taxpayers.

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Comments of MediaFreedom to the FCC

MediaFreedom.org[1] has long-argued against FCC imposition of its Net Neutrality rules, believing that the vibrant Internet ecosystem would be harmed by this unwarranted regulation. Although the latest proposal by the FCC appears headed in a more moderate Section 706 / “commercially reasonable” direction, the very idea of protecting the Open Internet in this manner remains wrong. These rules, if adopted in any form, will ultimately lead to broad, pervasive and stultifying Internet regulation, which will frustrate broadband deployment and harm Americans. The FCC should refrain from issuing its Net Neutrality rules at this time. [click to continue…]

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#FAIL – FCC Turns into DMV, Servers Clogged on “Net Neutrality Day”

July 15, 2014

#FAIL – On the last day to take comments for its Net Neutrality rulemaking – a day that the FCC has no choice but to make the Internet work for it due to the expected high volume of comments streaming over the medium to the agency – their servers are clogged. Looks like the FCC’s […]

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Free-Market Advocates Opposed to Internet Regulation Net Neutrality Comments

July 15, 2014

Comments of Free-Market Advocates Opposed to Internet Regulation For 10 years officials at the Federal Communications Commission have told Americans that the Internet will “break” unless the agency steps in to keep it “free and open.” All the while, the Internet’s privately driven development has been vibrant, relentless and universal. Nevertheless, at points during this same […]

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“Simple” Net Neutrality Ain’t So Simple – What Al Franken Should’ve Said at Free Press Event

July 12, 2014
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It’s Just “Simple” Net Neutrality, Says Stuart Smalley

July 10, 2014

We hear a lot from the groups pushing for Net Neutrality about how it’s really a simple concept.  After all – it only involves what’s already baked into the Internet. Like, “neutrality,” or something really fair and cool for “edge” innovators. Tuesday afternoon, Free Press – one such group pushing that “simple’ concept – hosted […]

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Free Press Wants to “Save the Internet” by Killing It

June 26, 2014

Free Press – the “consumer group” that has made a fortune off of the FCC’s needless and endless Net Neutrality push – has enlisted its troops to help it “Save the Internet” by urging the FCC to “reclassify” ISPs as old-fashioned common carriers (a.k.a. telephone companies). What does that mean – reclassify? Something simple. A […]

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MediaFreedom Files Comments on the Comm Act Update with Congress

June 16, 2014

As part of updating the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sought third-party comment on the state of U.S. competition policy, asking what Congress could do to “understand areas where the law is no longer working effectively and determine areas of improvement to foster an environment for innovation, consumer choice, and […]

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